By Tonya Jameson
Maybe it’s the unfiltered sunlight streaming through the windows, or the pillow-laden comfy chairs and couches, or maybe, just maybe, it’s the genuine smile from Sherry Waters, but Pauline’s Tea-Bar and Apothecary feels better than home.
In a city known for high-octane coffee shops, loud breweries, cardio yoga and other concepts that fuel our need to move, Pauline’s is a welcome respite from the Charlotte bustle. It’s tucked away in a small brick building off Freedom Drive. Since opening last July, Pauline’s has become an oasis for people seeking a quiet place to decompress, meditate and even pray.
“It’s the most comfortable place in Charlotte,” said Pamela Turner, who leads meditations at Pauline’s. “She intentionally made it a living room. It’s comforting and healing.”
Waters said she always wanted to create a quiet lounge. In a previous job, she worked as a chaplain for Atrium Health in Concord. Her office had comfortable furniture and aromatherapy diffusers. It really helped people who visited with her, and the idea for Pauline’s was born. When she visited the old office building that’s now Pauline’s, the spirits told her that it was her space, she said.
Inside Pauline’s, named after Waters’ late grandmother, along with the cozy furniture, artwork by local artists, soothing aromas fill the air. It’s a mix of sweet scents from the teas and essential oils from the diffuser. A water fountain trickles gently in the front room, and there’s a private prayer room in a space about the size of a small closet. Her friends and supporters donated personal mugs lining the wall next to the two shelves of herbal teas. There’s a case of freshly baked goods on the counter.
“Here, the design is to pull back from the hurriedness of life and be authentically you,” Waters said.
Waters greets customers and lets them pick their teas. She provides as much or as little assistance as her customers need to select a flavor. She, too, is learning about tea. Her real goal in opening Pauline’s was to create a sacred space. The tea was an afterthought, but she’s even added her own touch to that. She brings a steaming mug or pot to her guests while they get comfortable on a couch, chair or sit at the big round table. She plans to add floor pillows.
Most people find Pauline’s because repeat customers usually bring friends. The space has been used for group meetings and book clubs. Waters hosts monthly open mics, weekly happy hours, featuring a specialty tea, and holistic wellness classes.
Along a strip known more for fast food chains and unhealthy food, Pauline’s is an anomaly. It’s the kind of place that you’d expect to see in Dilworth or Plaza Midwood.
J’Tanya Adams, president of Historic West End Partners, says that fact makes Pauline’s even more important for African Americans.
“People assume that Charlotte is Southern and limited in their experiences, particularly African Americans, and we have such a broad experiences,” Adams said. “I would love to see a restorative space in West End, so we can have that peaceful place to go to and sit with a friend. Where better a location than an area where people are met with a lot of challenges, and have need for that kind of space?”
As the city shakes off the winter lull and steamrolls into the frenetic spring full of festivals and activity, Pauline’s invites us to take time to meditate, contemplate and be still.