When Sharon Moore’s parents traveled to the States from England for the first time and ordered tea, they got a surprise. Instead of a steaming pot with milk, it came iced. Now Moore, a well-traveled Brit who first landed in Indianapolis in 1999 as a freelancer covering auto racing, is schooling locals on proper British tea customs at Tilly’s Tea Room. For Moore, though, teatime is anything but stuffy. “A lot of people think it’s just like Downton Abbey,” Moore says, standing in the high-ceilinged former furniture shop that she renovated with bright, contemporary touches. “We like to show them it’s much more diverse and modern than that.”
Afternoon tea is the focus, with cucumber sandwiches, currant-studded scones prepared in-house, and clotted Devonshire cream flown in from a specialty producer in North Carolina. But Moore occasionally offers other British favorites, such as caramel slices and crumpets, as well as fish and chips with malt vinegar (and mushy peas). She also hosts parties, including an onsite baby shower for Bronte Tagliani, wife of IndyCar driver Alex Tagliani. Moore’s business is clearly a family affair, with daughter Matilda—Tilly, for whom the shop is named—son Max, and even her loyal Briard sheepdog, Valentino, making frequent appearances.