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House of Steep Opens on Friday

By Katie Pyzyk - ARLNow.com

Wednesday - 9/19/2012, 1:15pm  ET

Cherrydale is about to become home to a unique business aimed entirely at relaxation and wellness. House of Steep (3800 Lee Highway), a new “tea house and foot sanctuary,” is scheduled to open its doors on Friday (September 21).

Owner Lyndsey DePalma had been looking to get out of the corporate world to open a tea house for years. She started the ball rolling about two years ago while in business school and went on to receive her reflexology certification. She wants her business to be a haven for busy individuals looking to escape from daily stress.

“We can actually take 15 minutes, 30 minutes and just relax,” DePalma said. “It’s not just a tea house, it’s an experience, it’s a place to relax.”

Customers who want to continue relaxing after leaving House of Steep will be able to purchase some of the two dozen varieties of loose tea. Although there will be some traditional favorites such as Earl Grey and Jasmine Green, House of Steep will also feature around 10 specialty teas blended in house. The selection will rotate, and each month one employee will concoct a new blend.

A unique aspect of the business that often confuses people upon first hearing about it is the concept of a “foot sanctuary” in the back of the store. Customers can receive a foot massage and rest their feet in an herbal foot bath, with or without an accompanying cup of tea. The foot soaks will be customized for each person’s needs, such as relaxation, stimulation or muscle aches. DePalma said the health benefits of the tea will complement the reflexology benefits of the foot soak.

“The reason it works together, in my mind, is just the whole ancient Eastern wisdom that there’s a lot of health and healing that happens in your feet,” she said.

The tea house will serve lighter, healthy fare such as wraps, salads and summer rolls. DePalma prides herself on locally sourcing ingredients for the dishes, and for selling baked goods from local bakeries LeoNora and Out of the Box.

“One of the themes of my business is to support local whenever I can,” said DePalma. “My mom and grandma were entrepreneurs and my mom’s business did suffer from big box stores. Local has always been part of my bloodline.”

The local push will continue throughout the establishment by featuring local artists’ works on the walls and using two local artisans’ relaxation products in the foot sanctuary.

Although DePalma had initially thought an area with higher foot traffic would be preferable to the current location, she realized being off the beaten path may allow customers to further enjoy the experience. Instead of rushing through for a quick cup of tea on the way to work or errands, they’re encouraged to slow down and enjoy the overall experience.

“It’s a little bit removed. It’s a little more of a destination; originally it was more of a convenience thing,” DePalma said. “I’m striving for something that’s memorable.”

DePalma reports the surrounding community has been supportive and excited about the store, despite a number of delays with opening. DePalma is still working out all the kinks, and hopes to win over even more people during House of Steep’s grand opening on October 19. Full plans are still in the works, but there will definitely be a ribbon cutting, massages and reflexology demonstrations.

“This is my first startup, so I’m learning a lot while I go. I’m creating this new kind of thing in the hopes it will actually stick and really take off in this area,” said DePalma. “I feel like this area really enjoys something to do, especially health focused.”

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