Inspirations Tea Room

Tempting Teas and Plans for Expansion
When people walk through the door of Inspirations Tea Room at 2118 W. Edmond Road, they realize they’ve entered a special place. A warm greeting, soft instrumental music and a beautiful atmosphere cause them to feel welcome. The spirit of the holiday season is everywhere, and people say they feel inspired.

The restaurant has been open since February and the proprietor, Larry Rhoads, reports that they have already served more than 30,000 guests. It’s been a big hit for several reasons. The food is great and the prices are reasonable, he says. The experience goes well beyond being pleasant: diners say the tea room is refreshment for both body and soul.

The idea behind the business is meaningful to the Rhoads family. In 1995, Tamara Rhoads, Larry’s wife, lost her sister in an automobile accident. The last thing the sisters had done together was go to a Mother’s Day tea at their church. She recalls the wonderful time it was for both of them. For that reason, the couple decided to open a tea room. Their motto, which hangs over the entrance door, is “Encouraging Faith, Family and Friends.” Patrons often express how much they enjoy the peaceful, relaxing setting and the encouragement they feel by being there. “I think I’m right outside of heaven,” one woman said.

In addition to serving lunch and hosting showers, receptions and other special occasions, the tea room specializes in tea parties of refinement and attention to detail, Tamara says. She describes the restaurant as having English elegance with southern charm.

Lunch entrees are served with a homemade heart-shaped scone and a zesty lemon curd. The menu includes an assortment of more than 40 loose-leaf teas. Even the most discriminating British tea drinker would be impressed with the selection, Larry said.

Killing time before or after the meal is not a problem at Inspirations. People can browse the gift area for baby and children’s items, scented candles, framed art and photo portraiture (taken by Larry and Tamara’s son), greeting cards, décor and, of course, tea and tea accoutrements. Larry reports that they have more than 600 tea pots in stock. Several Christmas items have been added for the holiday season and special tea-themed gift baskets are always available for order.

Seventeen employees, ages 16 to 60, work at Inspirations. The Rhoads family has at least three of their own relatives rolling up their sleeves to perform various jobs. Tamara acquired some of her expertise by attending the Magnolian Ivy Tea School in Destin, Fla. She enjoys sharing what she has learned by providing etiquette tips while she hosts the children’s tea parties.

During the past few months, the restaurant has started serving dinner on Friday nights. The evening is called “Fri Tea Nights,” and a complete meal is served. It’s especially suited for couples looking for a special night out, Larry said.
The restaurant also has been enlarged with a closed-in patio area and lovely garden room, Larry said. Additional parking arrangements have provided relief for busy lunch hour parking.

Plans are in the works for the next phase of business. Four thousand square feet in the south part of the building is being converted into a bed and breakfast, called The Two Hearts Inn. Plans have already been approved and the inn should open in the spring. Five suites will be offered, two with large rooms featuring fireplaces and whirlpools. The Rhoads family will serve as innkeepers to ensure quality service and hospitality. The patio room will be open for guests of the inn to enjoy breakfast and treats from the tea room.

The Rhoads family said the restaurant has become an important purpose in life for them. They work hard to maintain a high standard of excellence, down to the last detail of service. Each plate of food is served with a small scripture card to provide words of encouragement from the owners to each customer. Family members say they have enjoyed seeing the favorable responses from people as they read the verses.

During the bustle of the holiday season and beyond, people will continue to find what they need at Inspirations Tea Room.

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