Ladies can renew their secret, swooning romance with perhaps the oldest ideal boyfriend ever this weekend.

Yes, the wealthy, dashing Fitzwilliam Darcy, born some 200 years ago, will be the featured guest at the Jane Austen-inspired “Dinner with Mr. Darcy” event complete with dishes from the story’s early 19th-century time period and door prizes for best character dress. All this will unfold at Tina’s Traditional English Tearoom at 17th and Central in Columbus.

Those wishing to turn back time via Austen’s classic novel “Pride and Prejudice” must know that seating is limited to only 20 people. Tickets are $35 per person. Two previous themed local dinners at the tearoom sold out.

“We try to put together the full experience,” said Tina Jesson, owner of the business that is similar to a same-named Carmel restaurant that she operates.

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That will include local actor and London native Robert Hay-Smith as Darcy, hoping to be bedecked in a formal British, Regency-style suit.

“Our ladies certainly do enjoy seeing a sharply dressed gentleman,” Jesson said, in her own Derbyshire English accent, making the comment all the more charming.

Her restaurants are all about good food, including lunches from Tuesday through Saturday in Columbus. But, occasionally, she wants to serve her meals with a generous side of dramatic fun.

“I myself don’t call it dinner theater,” Jesson said. “But that’s what some people have said about us. And this enables us to bring a little bit of the food and the history (of things). And it’s a lot of fun. And why be in business and have a miserable time?”

Columbus residents Jill Tasker and husband Doug Stender attended a Downton Abbey-themed dinner recently at the local tearoom and loved it — and they understand good drama as well as anyone as veteran actors. They dressed in 1920s-period dress to match the proper time frame for the popular PBS TV show set in a Yorkshire country estate. And, for being voted those with the best costumes, they won a prize of a free high tea.

“It’s intimate, but you don’t at all feel cramped,” Tasker said, who also has been to the eatery for lunch.

She also mentioned that Jesson’s charm that included trivia from the show added to the overall friendly feel of the dinner.

“All this has worked really well in Carmel (in a 40-seat space),” Jesson said. “And I’m confident that Columbus will embrace it in the same way.”

Her tearooms have been fashioned after experiences she enjoyed in such businesses in her homeland.

“I always wanted to own a tearoom,” said Jesson, who moved to Brownsburg 10 years ago when her husband took a job with Rolls Royce Indianapolis. “I just never thought I’d be doing it in America. But I found myself missing a bit of home. So I wanted to create something familiar.”

And create something slightly unfamiliar for some in a fast-food, eating-at-55-mph world. That explains why she sometimes includes quick, lighthearted notes on proper table etiquette.

“After all,” she said, “you’re going to be faced with more silverware than you’ve ever seen.”

Upcoming themed dinners including one for the Kentucky Derby on May 5 and Royal Wedding Buffet to Celebrate Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s nuptials May 19.

“This, is definitely an escape,” she said.

If you go

What: “Dinner With Mr. Darcy” themed meal, a Jane Austen-inspired event complete with dishes from the period, conversation about “Pride and Prejudice” and door prizes for best character dress.

When: 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Tina’s Traditional English Tearoom, a local restaurant at 1702 Pennsylvania St. (the corner of 17th and Central in the former Addison’s Bakehouse).

Tickets: $35 per person, available at

Other events: Easter Sunday buffet, April 1; Kentucky Derby High Tea, May 5; wedding buffet to celebrate the upcoming nuptials of England’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, May 19.

Information: 812-657-3484 or

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.