Tea and Jam Geodesic Domes

Tea and Jam's outdoor heated geodesic domes offer socially distant seating during the COVID-19 pandemic, Feb. 5, 2021.

Tea and Jam Cafe, a North Main Street tea room, all-natural restaurant and bakery, is giving Valentine’s Day couples a unique opportunity to dine within one of its three outdoor heated geodesic domes.

“(The domes have) been a real advantage,” owner Jack Howard said. “It’s helped business tremendously — we had to start doing reservations.”

With the help of a kit, Howard built the domes in late October and early November after receiving a Montgomery County dining expansion grant, a break funded by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and intended for restaurants to operate safely during the pandemic and finance restaurant losses due to extended closings.

As the pandemic continues to affect restaurants, Tea and Jam has also adapted to contactless ordering, where customers can view Tea and Jam’s menu and order from their phones. Internet bandwidth has been improved as well so customers can sit outside and have an internet connection.

With use of the domes and contactless ordering, couples have a choice to stay outside throughout their visit, a recommendation the Centers for Disease Control published in 2020. Couples also have a choice to order to-go with Tea and Jam’s reusable plastic containers.

“Really, (the dome’s) a chill environment,” said Howard, who also mentioned similar domes mainly exist in large cities, not smaller ones. “People (have come) to relax and escape.”

According to Howard, Tea and Jam has mainly served students as a place to study since its opening in September 2018, but Howard encourages couples to experience the one-of-a-kind geodesic domes and take advantage of the tea room’s all-repurposed and environmentally sustainable concept.

“I wouldn’t say we're (out of the pandemic), yet, but we’re getting there,” Howard said. “(The domes) have given us a better environment — once people come in and see it, and see our vibe, people will appreciate what we’re trying to do; we try to be as natural as possible.”