Capital Teas begins wholesale business


Ashley Monroe checked the aroma of teas at Capital Teas in the Mosaic District in Fairfax County in November 2013. The Annapolis-based chain is establishing a wholesale division to oversee its business with restaurants and hotels. (Jeffrey MacMillan)

Capital Teas, a local chain of specialty tea shops, is moving into the wholesale business.

The company announced Thursday that it is establishing a new division within its Annapolis headquarters to oversee sales to restaurants and hotels.

The move comes at a time of rapid expansion for the company, which received a $5 million private equity investment in March and is in the process of doubling its warehouse in Annapolis to 8,000 square feet. The company’s sales will probably double to more than $3 million this year, said chief executive Peter Martino, who founded the company with his wife, Manelle, in 2007.

Capital Teas began dipping its toes into the wholesale business a couple of years ago, when high-profile District restaurants began asking to carry the company’s teas. A number of eateries, including Le Diplomate, Bombay Club and Rose’s Luxury, now serve its products.

“We decided why not extend this concept further?” Martino said. “We’re looking at wholesale sales as an additional [source of] revenue for the company.”

Dan Ritter will manage the company’s wholesale business along the East Coast. Ritter formerly oversaw a number of magazines, including TeaTime, and served as general manager of the national chain Teavana, which is now part of Starbucks.

The Martinos started Capital Teas with a small outpost in Annapolis that they financed with $75,000 from their savings in 2007. The second store, in National Harbor in Prince George’s County, came three years later.

The company will open its eighth location next week on Capitol Hill, and has plans to open at least four more stores by the end of the year, Martino said.

“There has always been a big coffee culture in this country,” Martino said. “Now we’re going through something of a revolution — people are starting to drink tea and understand its health benefits.”

Capital Business is a Post publication focusing on the region’s business community. For more Washington business news, go to www.capbiz.biz.

Abha Bhattarai covers local retail, hospitality and banking for The Washington Post. She has previously written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.
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