In America, women were not only ideal tea room consumers, nearly all tea rooms were owned by women. It started small, with mostly middle class women opening up a room in their home or setting up tables in their garden and offering tea and light meals. This phenomenon wasn’t unique to the U.S.: British women served scones, cakes, and tea as a way to make extra money, too. Unlike many occupations, feeding people and presiding as hostesses were accepted ways for women to enter the workforce, since these tasks felt a lot like what they’d been doing all along, without pay.
Fantastic article on Jstor Daily.