As a self-professed anglophile – someone who loves all things England or British – I will admit I was giddy when I heard about British Bites opening in Centralia. Most of us in Lewis County don’t often get to Puyallup – where the original British Bites is located – so having one right here is incredible. British Bites is a bakery, bistro and a place for afternoon tea that allows us to savor the flavors of England.

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Washingtonian and an Ex-Pat Buy British Bites

Born and raised in Washington, Lori West lived in a few other places before returning home around 2007. Her husband, Micheal, is from England and moved to the United States in 2016. Since he couldn’t work when he first moved over here due to visa restrictions, Lori looked into getting a second job. “We used to go to British Bites to get Micheal’s British goods,” Lori explains. “She was hiring, and I ended up working for her.”

British Bites Centralia
British Bites in Centralia does not currently have grocery items, but they do have a few fun gift items in their foyer, and Lori plans to bring in prepackaged snacks from England and Great Britain in the future. Photo credit: Kristina Lotz

Just a month later, in early 2018, the owner of British Bites would tell Lori she was retiring and moving to Texas. Lori replied by saying they were interested in purchasing the business. “I’ve always liked baking and cooking,” she shares why they wanted to buy British Bites. “My husband loves the grocery aspect of the Puyallup location because it’s all the British candy and everything he’s known his entire life.”

On May 1, 2018 – while Lori and Micheal were on a trip to England – the business officially transferred to them. The former owner stayed on and worked for them for the next week until they got back from their trip.

British Bites Centralia
Each day the Centralia British Bites has fresh-made bakery items and savory goods you can eat there or get to-go. Photo credit: Kristina Lotz

British Bakery Comes to Centralia

After many years up north, Lori and Micheal decided to get out of the big city, move themselves, and open a second location. After their new house closed, the seller’s real estate agent heard they owned British Bites and told them of an available building he thought would be great for a bakery.

Lori admits they were a bit worried about settling in Centralia since there was nothing like them down here, and she knew she might have to do a lot of explaining about what they offer. “As a British bakery, you do you feel like you’re kind of having to attract a specific type of person, like specific people that are maybe interested in it, just because British food has always had this myth in America, that they just boil meat and potatoes and then it’s bland food, but it’s a lot different than what we think.”

One trip to British Bites will surely dispel any myths you may have about English food! From savory pasties – a customer favorite Lori always recommends to new customers – to sweet mini Vickis, which are a take on the traditional Victorian sponge cake with buttercream and jam, curd or other fillings, you will leave with happy tastebuds and a full stomach. They have an array of vegetarian and gluten-free options, including gluten-free bread for their sandwiches. Everyone will like their jackets, which are loaded baked potatoes.

And look for new items! “The fun part is that we are always going to England, and so we always get to see what’s going on there and see the different foods and new stuff that they’re bringing out, and we come back, and then we do that also,” Lori shares.

British Bites Centralia
British Bites in Centralia serves afternoon tea, the perfect time to relax in a no-rush atmosphere while eating delicious food and sipping high-quality tea. Photo courtesy: British Bites

Afternoon Tea in Lewis County

Perhaps the best part of British Bites is that we now have a place to have afternoon tea in Centralia! Three tiers of savories, desserts and, of course, scones will leave you impossibly full. The afternoon tea tradition is a time to relax, take your time, and enjoy the company of those you are with while sipping high-quality tea and eating scrumptious food. Reservations are needed at least 24 hours in advance. They can accommodate gluten-free and vegetarian tea menus.

Throughout the year, British Bites hosts themed afternoon teas for holidays like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas and Halloween. For Halloween, look for their Harry Potter-inspired wizarding teas on the weekends in October! They have done Jane Austen, Dr. Who and other fun teas in the past in Puyallup, so look for them at the Centralia location by following British Bites on Facebook.

“Adults don’t get away really with like dressing up for Halloween. When we do these events, you don’t have to dress up, but we get so many people that dress up, and they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ It’s an immersive experience, what we do, because we decorate the whole dining room and try to take people away from wherever they are and put them into a book or a movie.”

British Bites Centralia
Lori West (center) with her family in Bath, England at Guild Hall. She travels to England often and brings back new recipes for British Bites. Photo courtesy: Lori West

Tea Parties in Centralia

British Bites also does after-hours events at the Centralia location. Happening 30 minutes after they close, you reserve the entire dining room for your tea party. It’s perfect for a bridal or baby shower, birthday or any special occasion. “We recently had a young girl’s birthday party, and they were all wearing their fascinators and sat down to tea,” says Lori. “It was a lot of fun!”

Visit the British Bites website for more information.

British Bites
108 S Washington Avenue, Centralia

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