The Little Tea Shop is the oldest continuously operated restaurant in Memphis. It opened in 1918 in the basement of the Memphis Cotton Exchange. At the time, only the higher-ups in the echelon of the trading world were allowed to enter and engage in trade on the first floor, so presumably, The Little Tea Shop was a place where the wives of the elite could meet, nosh, and sip tea in a quiet setting while the hectic bidding for cotton went on upstairs. Lillie Parham and Emily A. Carpenter were the original owners of this respite of genteel Southern hospitality.
At the height of the Great Depression, the restaurant was relocated. Yet there was no disruption in service. One evening after closing time, employees from waitresses to dishwashers moved everything down the alley and into the new location at 69 Monroe Street. The restaurant was open for lunch the following day.