Karen Rhodes are Cumbrian wedding caterers and event planners who also bring delicious local food to your door with their ‘Dine In’ service. Set up nearly 20 years ago, and with a local history stretching much further back, this family business is still going strong.
Charlotte Rhodes, Karen’s daughter, is passionate about the business and gives us an insight to the past, present and future of this local company.
It all began in a pub
Back in the 1980’s my granddad, Peter Thompson, bought The Hare and Hounds in Bowland Bridge, near Windermere, so the family was involved in hospitality and catering from early on. Little did we know at the time, though, how far we would come and what was to grow from this first step.
In 1992, after many years working in the pub, my parents, Karen and Phil, started Karen Rhodes Weddings & Events. I was only a baby at the time and they’d had enough of the pub life with split shifts and working evenings. They wanted a business that was more flexible to suit their growing family and my mum’s passion for horses.
They had presumed that, as weddings (usually) only take place over one day, that, with a bit planning, they could easily fit this new venture around a small baby, while also maintaining the flexibility of going to horse shows. But that wasn’t quite what they got! Wedding planning takes over your whole life, even when you’re not the bride or groom! You become emotionally connected to the bride and her family for usually well over a year and are involved in nearly every decision made. You become their confidant and they become your friend. It wasn’t what they expected, but they thrived on providing the best service and food – an ethos that still remains with us all today.
Growing and Changing
Over the years the business has evolved from my parents doing everything, occasionally roping in friends to help on the weekends. Now I, my sister Lucy, and our fantastic team work together to realise the wedding dreams of our brides and grooms. Things have come a long way since the small dinner parties out of my Grandad’s pub: we now work on weddings of all shapes and sizes, as well as corporate events with up to 1,000 guests!
Although mum sadly passed away in May 2020, she is the ultimate inspiration behind everything we do in and out of the business. Her sheer determination and zest for life is what continues to drive us to be the best we can be.
Diversifying With Dine In
When COVID hit in March 2020, we knew we needed to diversify, so we started looking into providing home delivered meals. There’s so much competition in the recipe box market that we wanted to do something a bit different and something that reflected the quality of food we provide with our usual outside catering.
We came up with Dine In With Karen Rhodes, delivering quality meals directly to your door, with all the hard work already done! Our simple instructions not only provide details on how to cook the food (just pop it in the oven at the right temperature!), they also make serving suggestions so you can add a bit of flair to your meals and really feel that you’re eating at a fancy restaurant!
After trialing different dishes, packaging and ideas in the summer, we finally launched in September and we’ve been thrilled with the uptake.
What to expect
Our dishes are prepared, packaged and delivered with the simplest of instructions, so they’re easy to cook and serve.
You can have a three-course meal for a romantic date night or special occasion, or order several one- or two-course meals for the week. It reduces the time for food preparation and, when you’re on holiday especially, gives you more time to relax and enjoy our beautiful county. You can even pre-order before your stay for delivery once you arrive! And guests with Sally's Cottages receive a special discount.
We are so lucky to have some of the country’s leading suppliers on our doorstep. We use lots of local food for our dishes, including from Higginson’s of Grange, Furness Fish & Morecambe Bay Potted Shrimps, Hawkshead Relish, Cartmel Valley Fish & Game, and B. E. Hargan Fruit & Veg. It not only means that we can support other local businesses, but helps us ensure that our food really is the tastiest and of the best quality.
We’re so happy to have been able to turn difficult times into positive outcomes, and we’ll continue providing the best service in honour of our mum and all the people we work with.