Within the American tea room movement of the 1920s, gypsy tea rooms emerged as a unique phenomenon with roots that extended back to the 1880s.
Many immigrant women had established fortune-telling enterprises in major American cities, but the practice had been frowned on and ordinances were enacted to ban payment for fortune-telling services. In an effort to bypass such laws, fortune-telling was moved into tea rooms where the service was offered for “free” with a purchase of 25 cents or more.
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, gypsy tea rooms thrived in Boston, New York City, Cleveland, St. Petersburg, Kansas City, and Los Angeles. Chicago’s Gypsy Tea Room on West Munroe may have been the city’s first tea room, and the Garden of Zanzibar Tea Room on West Randolph Street was another early fortune-telling establishment in the Windy City.