Mary Malott was walking along when she noticed a friend's daughter decorating a storefront window.
She walked inside, and the lights flickered to life.
"All of a sudden, I know it's my tea room," she said.
That happened on Jan. 25, 2012 — the day Malott woke up from a dream with a vision of her future.
For the two years since, the 68-year-old York City woman has been working to open the tea room she saw in her dream.
Last month, Malott welcomed her first customers to Coffee, Teas and Thee at 15 S. Pershing Ave. The quaint restaurant, decorated with black-and-white photos and decades-old teapots, occupies the first floor of a 113-year-old house around the corner from the York County Heritage Trust's Colonial Complex on West Market Street.
Tea rooms are restaurants that typically serve a prix fixe menu of soups, salads, mini sandwiches and scones with flavored teas.
Malott, a Glen Rock native and nurse by trade, said she'll stick to that format, offering $15 meals — a price significantly cheaper than many other tea rooms in the region. Malott said she wants city residents, who tend to make less money than their suburban neighbors, to discover the tea room.
The restaurant is open Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome, but parties of more than three people should call (717) 854-3669 to make reservations in advance.
While Malott's drive to open a business started in 2012, you can actually track its origin to 50 years ago.
When she was 18, Malott had another dream. In that one, she was teaching African children about the Bible.
"I didn't understand it, but it never would leave me," she said.
Twenty years later, Malott traveled to Zaire — now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo — as a missionary. For a year, she taught women to sew and children to read the Bible.
Malott said she believes God was behind that dream and the one about the tea room. This time, Malott said, "I thought, 'I don't have 20 years left to wait.'"
Almost immediately, she started looking for properties in York City. At the same time, she was caring for her husband, who was in a nursing facility with dementia. Dean Malott died Jan. 2, 2013.
Before he died, Dean Malott told his wife he supported her goal of opening a tea room.
"I just felt I had to do it. I was driven to do it," she said.
— Reach Erin James at firstname.lastname@example.org.