MaryAlice Deverell fills condiment containers for take-out orders at the Willows Beach Tea Room in Oak Bay. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

MaryAlice Deverell fills condiment containers for take-out orders at the Willows Beach Tea Room in Oak Bay. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

Steady stream of customers remains despite take-out only option at Oak Bay eatery

Willows Beach Tea Room is open seven days a week

Take-out isn’t new for the old-school eatery at Willows beach, but the missing social aspect is affecting some visitors.

The Kiwanis-run tea room in Oak Bay opened in April without the dining-in option due to health restrictions, leaving regulars without a hangout, volunteer Jan Burns said.

“The regulars don’t like it, but the young people could care less, they just want their fries and go sit down,” Burns said with a laugh. “To me the difference is when people come in, you really get a relationship with them. Now we can’t really do that, other than to say hello.”

Recent hot weather weekends were busy, almost as hectic as the annual Oak Bay Tea Party weekend can be, she added.

RELATED: Kiwanis’ Willows Tea Room celebrates 70 years

While Burns likes their onion rings, chicken and fries continue to be the best seller, followed by candy bags and freezies for the kids. After 3 p.m., ice cream is a hit.

Thankfully patrons don’t seem dissuaded by take-out only as the non-profit eatery raises funds for the Oak Bay Kiwanis club. The club in turn supports about 25 charities.

The winter Sunday breakfasts that usually run January to April also got the boot this year, due to COVID-19. Those directly fund Kiwanis Pavilion, a residential care facility serving frail seniors and those who live with dementia.

Staffing remains steady despite the pandemic, and includes 11 paid students plus five volunteers – not all Kiwanians.

Willows Beach Tea Room is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., extending to 5 p.m. starting June 30.

In 2018, Kiwanis of Oak Bay donated $60,000 to charities in Oak Bay and Victoria, and Kiwanis Pavilion Foundation raised more than $100,000 for the Kiwanis Pavilion.

RELATED: Willows winter breakfasts warm souls with music

c.vanreeuwyk@blackpress.ca


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