Though he may be one of only a few men on the premises at any given moment, Inspirations Tea Room proprietor Larry Rhoads knows a thing or two about tea parties. “Inspirations is truly a celebration place,” he explains. “People come together for many different reasons and tea can help bridge the gap between generations. Whether she is two or 92, I always say you can never take the tea party out of the girl!”
“Every week we see multiple generations together,” Larry remarks. “Lots of little princesses come in the door here. We make the joke about how few men there are at the tea room, but when there are, we always make sure to mention that he is certainly a man with a lot of class.”
A Lasting Tribute
Inspirations Gifts, Decor and Tea Room was opened in February 2005 by Larry and his wife Tamara with the mission of encouraging faith, family and friends. “We take it really seriously around here,” Larry explains. “We try to get into the whole experience and make a real positive impression on the importance of being together. We are a great place to come for relationship building and for a calming atmosphere.”
Inspirations was opened to honor the memory of Tamara’s younger sister, April. “Tamara has always loved tea and often hosted tea parties,” Larry recollects. “In 1995, she hosted a tea party at church to celebrate Mother’s Day and invited her newly-married younger sister [April] to attend.” A few days later, April was in a car accident and passed away.
“April’s passing gives our tea room more purpose and meaning,” Larry says. “Inspirations stands as a lasting tribute to their relationship as sisters. Tamara is delighted that her desire to have a tea room where mothers, daughters and sisters can be inspired and encouraged has come to be. We opened the doors ten years later, in 2005, and it’s been an important part of our healing process.”
A Family Affair
In addition to being opened in April’s honor, operating Inspirations is truly a family affair. The Rhoads have four children and nine grandchildren, and the family is very entrepreneurial by nature. “We have always involved our kids in our businesses,” Larry explains. “And our married kids now have their own businesses. Our business has been a training ground for our kids.”
The couple still has two children at home, and Larry reminisces that daughter Allison began working at Inspirations at six years old, standing on a stool to run the cash register.
“One of the fun things about having your children work in your business is it gives them a first hand view into public relations, real world know-how, wisdom and knowledge,” Larry explains.
For Allison, now 15, working in the family business has been an outstanding learning opportunity. “I’ve enjoyed gaining experience and getting to know people through different eyes,” she explains. “I love having the opportunity to encourage others and am blessed to be able to bless others.”
And Allison isn’t the only young person who benefits from Inspirations’ family-centered business model. “We employ lots of young, college-age employees,” Larry continues.
“When someone comes to work here, we want this experience to be a stepping stone for where they are going in life. We want them to know what hospitality truly is and to treat our customers like they were guests in their own home.”
Tea Room Classics—and More
In addition to the peaceful atmosphere and outstanding service, Inspirations is well-known for their award-winning menu. “We serve tea room classics,” Larry explains. “Our recipes are tried and true. I was once told by a guest in her 70s that she’d had quiche ‘everywhere,’ but that ours was the very best.”
Inspirations’ most popular dishes include chicken salad on mixed greens, a chicken salad croissant and a daily Queen’s quiche. “Other popular options are our paninis, ‘quesa-tea-as’ (the tea room’s version of a quesadilla, served with black beans, green chilies and creamy chipotle sauce on a jalapeno tortilla) and salads,” Allison says.
Every entrée is served with the tea room’s signature item—a freshly baked scone and homemade lemon curd. “Our cakes are also excellent,” Allison continues. “Our coconut cake is like eating a sweet cloud. Not to mention our triple fudge chocolate cake, fruit of the forest pie and strawberry shortcake!”
Inspirations offers more than 50 different tea choices on their tea menu, in addition to three daily iced teas. “Our most popular iced tea is the Blue Sapphire,” Allison explains. “It’s a black tea with coconut, blue cornflower and strawberry.”
For the littlest tea room guests, Inspirations offers the Princess Tea, which includes an elegant tiered tray with a heart-shaped sandwich, fruit, cheese, scones, chocolate-dipped strawberries and more. “We also offer a Prince Charming Tea for the young fellows,” Larry adds. “And it’s not uncommon to see fathers and daughters having a ‘date’ at the tea room and making memories together.”
Inspirations hosts birthday parties, baby showers, wedding showers and receptions, rehearsal dinners, anniversaries and other special events. Also, guests at Inspirations can browse the gift shop for a wide variety of teas, tea accessories, tea pots, jewelry and more.
Mother’s Day Tea
“Mother’s Day is a big deal here,” Larry explains. “The Saturday before Mother’s Day is one of our very biggest days, when we host our annual Mother’s Tea. It’s the ultimate tea party for everyone who comes, and we honor moms, sisters, aunts and grandmas.”
The centerpiece of the event is the three-tiered tea tray filled with the best of Inspirations’ fare, available both at the Mother’s Tea and throughout the month of May. “We also provide a long stemmed rose to every mom on that day,” he says. “We go the extra mile to make it very special for moms.” Reservations are required for the Mother’s Tea.
Two Hearts Inn
The Rhoads also own the Two Hearts Inn Bed & Breakfast (www.twoheartsinn.com), located on Inspirations’ property. With five luxurious suites, the inn is designed as a romantic getaway including jacuzzis, themed rooms and breakfast in bed. “What’s really fun about the Two Hearts Inn is that people come for their wedding night stay and come back for their anniversary,” Larry observes. “We’ve celebrated everything from newlyweds to 60th wedding anniversaries. It’s the perfect way to get away without going away.”
In addition, the family has also opened two Teaoli stores (www.teaoli.com), offering an extensive selection of loose-leaf teas, extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars, located in Spring Creek Village in Edmond and Brookhaven Village in Norman.
“We just want to continue to be successful with what we have. It doesn’t automatically stay successful and stay good. You have to work at it,” Larry concludes. “We take what we do here as a responsibility and we want to be faithful in what we do. Our family is grateful for the opportunity to serve people in the community. We go the extra mile to make sure our customers feel special. Our mission is to be a place to encourage faith, families and friends to all those that we serve.”
Inspirations Tea Room
2118 W Edmond Rd, Edmond
Gift Store Hours:
Monday–Friday 10:00am–4:00pm, Saturday 10:00am–5:00pm
Tea Room Seating:
Monday–Friday 11:00am–3:00pm, Saturday 11:00am–4:00pm
What do customers say most?
“That Inspirations in unique. Even people from larger metro settings will say ‘We wish we had something like this in our town.’ We love when people leave us saying ‘It was wonderful, as usual.’”
Brooke Barnett is the Assistant Editor and Online Content Manager at MetroFamily Magazine.