A royal honour: Brampton couple to serve tea to Prince Charles and Camilla
'It's a fairytale,' said tea shop co-owner Daniel Lewis
The moment you step inside T by Daniel, a cozy cafe at the corner of Queen and Main streets in downtown Brampton, Ont., you feel like royalty.
Behind the counter, husband and wife duo Daniel and Renata Lewis welcome all first-time visitors with a curtsy and twirl.
And their trademark greeting will face what may be its ultimate test Friday — when the pair serves tea to the Prince of Wales.
"Who greater could you possibly serve?" asks Renata.
It's something the couple has long dreamed about, but never believed would happen.
"This is destiny," Daniel chimes in, laughing.
Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, are in the midst of a three-day royal tour as part of Canada 150 festivities. They're visiting Nunavut, Prince Edward County, Ont., and Ottawa for Canada Day.
But it's a stop in Trenton, Ont., where the Lewises will present the prince with a special blend of tea crafted specially for him.
"We decided everything, even the aesthetic, how it looks, the aroma is really meaningful for the celebration of Canada and the visit from His Royal Highness," said Daniel.
A twist of fate
So how exactly did a little tea shop in Brampton get selected for a royal visit?
Daniel traces it back to 2009 when he was working at Domino's Pizza and making music, rather than tea.
He had been writing and performing as a hip-hop artist when he was almost killed. Some of the lyrics made him a target, he said, adding that he was stabbed four times.
"It was life-changing for me," he said. "It helped me redirect my life, my goals, and I decided to start something."
That something became T by Daniel.
"The value, the service is all built around that incident and what we learned," Daniel said. "There are communities who touch the justice system like I did. Probably didn't finish high school like I didn't, and feel like there's no hope and there's nowhere to go.
"But there is hope."
Lewis eventually teamed up with the Prince's Charities Canada, an organization that encourages entrepreneurship, education, and mentoring young people and veterans.
So when Prince Charles's visit was announced, someone within the charity remembered Daniel's story and recommended him.
"It's a fairytale," Daniel said.
A royal blend
The couple is working around the clock to get ready.
They'll be serving their famous Lion Chai, a customer favourite that's a concoction of spices and dairy-free coconut cream.
They're also crafting a special blend for Prince Charles to take home.
And while they've served other big names, the pair admits this is a whole new level.
"This is proof that when you start something with a mission to inspire others, and the tea shop is a way for me to do that, great things can happen," said Daniel. "It's a dream and now its coming true."