Magazine Feature / People

Alumna leaves behind comfy job, finds passion in tea leaves

Lisa Biro (BA French ’98) had reached a point in her life when she could stay in her comfortable job as benefits manager for the University of Denver and retire nicely in a few years. But an image of herself as a kindergartner kept tugging at her shirtsleeve.

“I kept asking myself what I had wanted for my life in kindergarten,” she says. “I was afraid of looking back and realizing that I had stayed in a safe, nice job — and I loved DU — but it had very little to do with me.”

On a leap of faith, Biro left DU after 15 years in March 2005 and began researching what her future would hold.

“I couldn’t get away from the idea of tea,” she says. “There is a rich culture around tea and I think people are ready for something calmer.”

Biro visited tea shops and found a tea importer in Los Angeles that she liked. She realized that she would have to sell food, but embraced that realization.

“I lived in France for 12 years and I fell in love with how they eat. Everything is organic and close to the source,” says Biro. “I decided that I wouldn’t try to dazzle people; I’d just give them good food.”

Armed with 56 whole leaf teas from around the world and a modest yet scrumptious menu of six sandwiches, Biro opened Capital Tea at 1450 South Broadway in July 2006. 

The café itself transports visitors as soon as they enter from busy Broadway. A colorful glass chandelier hangs over the tea bar, tables and comfy chairs invite people to linger, and the walls wink with copper leaf.

“I want to impact people positively, even for just five minutes,” she says.

Still, Biro says she did not aim to create a place that “heals people.” She admits to being “shrewd” in her decision to open a teashop, as well.

“Wellness is huge. Boomers and the aging population love tea.  I looked at a lot of numbers.”

Marcella Skogen, a friend of Biro’s, supported Biro in her quest to open the teashop. She says that Biro’s business will be successful for many reasons.

“Lisa really loves tea and she’s passionate about sharing it with others,” Skogen says. “She has created a quiet, beautiful, nurturing, peaceful environment that people are starving for in our noisy, busy culture.”

In reflecting on her journey, Biro says, “This is not a dream come true for me. I instead see it as though I opened a door into who I am.”

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