Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

May 2, 2013

Gilded Lily keeps on shining

Tess Rowing
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — The Gilded Lily has been around for several years, tucked away off the square in a narrow but tall Victorian-style house.

When a guest walks in, he or she will be greeted by an eclectic but coordinated overflow of decor. Gilded Lily owner, Letti Davis, may own a tearoom, but her passion has always been home decoration.

In November 2000, Davis opened a home decor and garden store in what’s now the Gilded Lily. She did customized window treatments, floral design and home design work, and still does.

The shop did “alright,” said Davis, but not great. 2009 would inspire a change.

In 2009, Greensburg celebrated its sesquicentennial — the 150th anniversary of Greensburg being incorporated as a city.

Davis acted as chairwoman to the committee organizing the celebrations. The committee arranged a tea party and fashion show at the First Christian Church, which served 250 women.

Due the success of the tea party, many people commented to Davis, she explained, that she should open a tearoom.

The home decor store wasn’t pulling a particularly large profit because Davis couldn’t compete with stores such as Hobby Lobby; the Gilded Lily still has gift items posed as sellable decorations.

“They’d say ‘this place is so beautiful, I hope you never have to close,’” said Davis, “Then leave without buying anything.”

In 2010, Davis finished converting the establishment into a small restaurant.

Currently, the Gilded Lily serves lunch items; afternoon tea can be arranged by reservation.

Davis has done quite a bit of catering, including teas for the American Girls, bridal showers and tea for the Indiana Angus Auxiliary. With notice, Davis will also arrange evening meals for parties.

The house itself has quite a bit of history; Davis said she believes it dates back to 1890, and, during her lifetime, had been used as a knitting and sewing shop in the 1960s and ‘70s.

“People remember taking sewing classes in here,” she recalled.

The house had been in her business partner, Jenny Brodie’s, family. Preparing it for use was a small challenge; when Brodie inherited the house, the building was brimming with the collections of a pack rat. The walls also had to be re-papered, and a porch and kitchen were added.

A guest may see that the Gilded Lily is more than a restaurant to the owner; the building has been turned into a canvas for Davis’ own brand of art.

“I like things to flow,” said Davis.

Each room has a color, and all the items in the room match, from the tablecloths, down to the dishes from which the guest eats.

Davis also explained the inspiration behind the name: “Gilding the lily” means to put on the finishing touches.

Davis said she is still gilding the lily in her tearoom, and is still finding items for which to mix and match so the rooms flow more naturally.

Her real dream job, she said later, is being able to design without monetary limitations and without interference. She has had a few customers for whom she redecorated their homes where limitations were not a factor. Her customers had been more than satisfied with her work, she said.

Davis has also done work for Main Street Greensburg during Christmas time, and displays for the Greensburg Chamber of Commerce.

The Gilded Lily serves a small variety of homemade lunch items, deserts and tea, and is located at 405 North Broadway Street, and can be contacted at 662-8229.

The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Contact: Tess Rowing 812-663-3111 x7004