Launching Lunch at Hurley House!

We are so excited to announce that beginning Tuesday, August 22, Hurley House will begin serving lunch!  We would like to take this opportunity to answer some of the many questions you may have!

What days and times will lunch be available? 

We will serve lunch during store hours Tuesday through Saturday.  No restrictions!

What can I order for lunch?

We will have two items on our lunch menu.  You may choose either our Salad of the Week (packaged individually) or the Hurley House Trio (choose three items from chicken salad, pasta salad, fruit, or pimiento cheese).  

Does anything come with the lunch options?

Yes!  Both menu options include your choice of bagel chips and a beverage.

How much will lunch cost?

Each of our lunch options cost $10

What beverages do you have?

(Super excited about this answer!)  In addition to our iced mint tea, hot coffee, and iced coffee, we now also offer Grapefruit La Croix, and Topo Chico!

Do I eat my lunch at Hurley House or take it to go?

Either!  You are free to use our tables and enjoy your lunch at Hurley House.  We will have everything you need...forks, napkins, lots of friendly service.  Or, you can take your lunch with you back to work or to eat along the way.  You can even drive through and pick up lunch!  

If I eat my lunch at your tables, will it be on a plate?

It will not.  All of our lunch items will be pre-packaged in disposable containers.  But, as always, you are welcome to make yourself at home and use any of our dishes if that makes you feel more comfortable.  Our plates are your plates. 

If I am meeting friends, can we reserve a table?

Absolutely!  Give us a call and let us know you're coming.  We will gladly save space for your group.

What if I want to host a private party at Hurley House during lunch?

We love lunch parties!  If you would like to host a private event centered around lunch, we will gladly help you execute your vision.  All of our private event details can be found on our Events Page.  

We can't wait to see you soon for lunch!  

What is Hosted?

Hosted is a series of hospitality classes, featuring a discussion-based curriculum that engages you in the heart of hospitality.

Great.  So...what is it?

Imagine a table full of friends, drinking wine, nibbling on snacks, and sharing horror stories from their last dinner party where a guest spilled red wine all over their new white carpet.  Should the guest be expected to pay for it?  Should she be invited back?

Or, have you ever wondered why it is so freaking difficult to get an entire party menu cooked and on the table while everything is still hot and also make sure you are showered and have plenty of ice in the ice bucket and the kids are fed and the dog is in his crate and the music is on and the candles are lit and the house is clean???  Why are simple things never simple?

Or, if you decide to host people in your home, what are your responsibilities?  What are reasonable things to expect from your guests?

Or, imagine finally understanding the difference between entertaining and hosting.  Why do we even bother inviting people over?  What can we do to make the experience enjoyable instead of a Pinterest-inspired shame fest?

These are the kinds of discussions we have at Hosted.  

We gather at the table.  We enjoy beverages and sweet treats.  We listen to the content.  We ask questions.  We laugh.  We connect and realize community is life-changing, and hosting is the kind of hard work that is worth the effort.

But we don't stop there.  Once we've delved into the depths of the heart of hospitality, we keep it real and get super practical with recipes, tips, and strategies.  (Do you know the secret to making boxed brownies taste homemade?  Do you know how to skip ironing napkins?  Do you know how much salt to add to pasta water?)

I began teaching these classes around my dining room table several years ago, and they quickly became one of my favorite things.

This summer, we are teaching these classes every Thursday night.  You will leave with a packet of materials, and the resources to begin improving your hosting skills.  These classes are fun, and the perfect opportunity to spend an evening with friends.  

We hope to see you at a Hosted class soon!

Click here to register.

Unexpected Gifts

There were some positive things about opening our first retail location that I expected.  For example, the utter glee I felt the first time we put our commercial ovens to use and were able to bake 200 cookies in 8 minutes.  

And then, there were unexpected gifts, things I never considered as sources of joy and delight, that have blindsided me in the most beautiful of ways.  At the top of this list is our staff.

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Our staff is the machine that keeps Hurley House running.  They all took a chance and jumped on board without much of an idea about how things would shake out.  Their work ethics are tremendous, their creativity is abundant, and their names all sound like they could be American Girl Dolls (Molly, Elizabeth, Ada, Caroline, Katherine, Jess, Kailey, and Mollie...and at previous seasons Rachel, Beth, Corinne, Tori, Lydia).  We joke about how the number one qualification to work at Hurley House is you have to have a name that could be an American Girl Doll.  

Our staff includes four active students and two sisters.  We have two artists, a ballerina, and a singer.  We have one who is the oldest of eight and another who is the oldest of six.  We have two pastor's wives, and one headed to the mission field in Australia.  We have three mothers (including myself) who have in total eleven children ranging in age from 3 to 14.  

When you come to Hurley House, every staff member (not just the ones that work in the front) are working hard to make your experience excellent.  Part of our training process is to teach our staff how to anticipate need so that others feel cared for, how to work clean so that every environment, not just the front of the store, looks orderly and tidy, and how to see every task, even washing dishes and taking out trash, as part of the process of extending hospitality to everyone who walks in our door.

When I come to work each day, the store is quiet, the lights are off, the sun is just rising.  I go to the kitchen, turn on the oven, grab an apron, and begin to work.  It's nice.  But then, as the staff begins to arrive, clocking in, putting away dishes from the drying rack, filling the coffee pots and bakery case, pulling out ingredients and packaging orders, the store comes to life.  My heart overflows.  

We chat about our lives, updates on children and dogs and boyfriends.  We laugh until we cry, particularly when Caroline shows us Halloween costume ideas for her dog Buddy.  We attack the tremendous prep list for the day as a team, delegating, organizing, working hard until every item is crossed off.  

We spend hours together working, but it doesn't feel like work.  It feels like home...the kind of home where each person has their prescribed roles and responsibilities, but everyone is working toward a common goal.  

The experience of leading a staff of kindred hearts, getting to know them, being able to communicate with just a glance, or knowing what another needs before they ask, has ironically provided space for me to connect and heal, even though my aim was to do that for others.  I love my work, and the ways I get to execute my ideas and dreams.  But the work alone would be empty without the community of coworkers that bring it all to life.  

 

Store Front Door and a Dining Room Table

Yearning toward a goal, picturing it in your head, pining away for all the things you wish you had,  but in reality don't, can be a powerful motivator.  Belief that one day you will take the next big step can inspire lots of little steps that help that hope become reality...or at least feel like it.

After two years of mixing and baking private orders from my kitchen, delivering products to clients or meeting them in a parking lot somewhere, the business was running well.  Lots of people start home business and take their product to their customers.  But part of my desired "product line" involved creating a place for people.  I wanted them to walk through the door and find something lovely waiting for them, a friendly face, a hot cup of coffee.  I wanted them to want to come back.  But where does one create space when there is not a place to house the space?

Once again, necessity sparked a solution.

Maybe I didn't have a retail store front, but I did have a home with a front door that opened directly into our dining room.  And in this dining room was a table, the focal point of gathering.  What if I turned our front door into a store front and transformed our dining room table into a bakery counter?

In the fall of 2015, with a double dose of bravery and belief, I launched Store Hours.  Every Wednesday, in our home, from 9:00 to 2:00 I unlocked the front door and invited people to walk in to Hurley House.  The table was piled high with cookies, cakes, bars, and pies.  I offered complimentary coffee and a smiling face, and the craziest thing happened.  People showed up.

Moms and toddlers met for coffee and cookies and sat on my back porch while their little ones played on our swing set.  Friends stopped by and chatted for a while.  "Regulars" made us part of their weekly routine, and I got to know their children's names and hear about their lives.  

Wednesday Store Hours was a lot of work.  Setting up, preparing the food, not knowing if anyone would show up...it was risky.  Some weeks were slow, and my family had leftover cookies for days.  And some weeks were full and busy.  

The experience showed me (once again) the power of hospitality.  When we open our home, prepare space, welcome others in and anticipate their need, people feel taken care of.  Hospitality is taking the risk to set the table and watch what happens.

Store Hours was a shadow of big events on the horizon in the life our little company.  Those Wednesdays became training wheels for the "real thing," a real store front, which was closer than I could have imagined, peeking just over the horizon.  

If you were one of those people who pulled into my driveway on Wednesdays, walked through my door without knocking, and took the whole thing seriously, thank you.  You weren't just buying cookies and drinking coffee, you were fueling hope and supporting dreams.  You were a balm that ran warmly over my heart, faithfully showing up and showing me this little dream had potential.  

Lessons in Less

When I launched Hurley House, I had no idea what to expect.  I was armed with fresh ambition and a well-worded vision statement, but that didn't give me more counter space or a bigger oven.  Our home kitchen is tiny, the tiniest we have ever had out of the seven homes our family has lived in over the past sixteen years.

I had a choice.  I could complain, or I could push up my sleeves and make it work.  I decided to make it work.

As Hurley House took off at a pace I never anticipated, things got really complicated really quickly.  Where do we store all the pans?  Where do we store all the ingredients?  Where do we store all the supplies?  How do I bake 200 cookies in this silly-small oven?  Where do the cookies go to cool?

The challenges were numerous, but I am nothing if not creative.  Cute rolling carts were purchased to house a growing collection of sheet trays and cake pans.  A second (and eventually a third) refrigerator were moved into the garage to store ingredients, and our laundry room became my dry storage space.  Our front living room became our packaging warehouse.  Folding tables were set up to provide space for cooling and assembly.  The dining room table was a second work station.  And the oven ran CONSTANTLY.

As for the kitchen itself, I had to make the best of a challenging set up.  In the beginning, honestly, I was annoyed, entitled, frustrated by my lack of counter space.  Slowly, I began to find the gifts waiting for me in the challenges.  

I learned that scarcity breeds creativity and tight quarters teach efficiency.  I learned how to maximize vertical space.  I learned how to break a task down into its components and work systematically.  I learned which tools were must-haves and which ones weren't worth the space they took up.  I learned the value of cleaning as you go.  I learned that in fact you CAN churn out hundreds of cookies and cakes and cater meals for hundreds of people when you work smart.  

For three years I turned our kitchen a factory, and besides my children's bedrooms, there wasn't a room in our house that didn't contain something related to Hurley House. 

The greatest lesson I learned in working with less was gratitude.  When we finally did find a bigger space and purchased commercial equipment, I could not have been more grateful.  I knew the value of being able to bake 192 Sparkle Sandwich Cookies at once instead of only 24.  High caliber gratitude for the thing you've longed for only comes with longing for something...for a long time.  

I look back at photos from the days when Hurley House was in our home, and I sincerely wonder how we did it.  The answer is easy.  We made a lot out of a little, and I wouldn't trade those lessons for all the oven space in the world.  

How Did Hurley House Start?

When our family moved out of The Hurley House, I was on staff at our church.  My job description included singing and cooking.  I led worship every Sunday, and then I got to plan, cater, organize, and execute a monthly all-church lunch.  You could say I was flying high, firing on all my cylinders, marveling that a job existed where music and meal-planning intersected.

The ugly truth is that our time at that church ended unexpectedly, and with our exit came the loss of my job.  I went from high and happy to low and sad.  It wasn't pretty, and I spent a lot of days on the couch in my pajamas wondering what to do next.  

On a particularly bad day, my best friend picked me up and took me and my two youngest children to Chick-Fil-A for lunch.  We happened to run into another mutual friend, and the three of us sat in a booth together while my kids played.  

As my friends listened to my woes about the sad state of my life, one of them looked at me and said, "If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?"

I looked at her and said, "I would start a business where other people feel like they are at home.  We would cook for them and offer them space to connect, and they would always leave feeling like we had taken care of them."

"Then that's what you need to do.  Go make it happen."

The idea of creating something of my own made me want to get off the couch and move forward.  And with that little tiny seed of an idea, I began to write out a vision of what the business would be.  I didn't necessarily know how it would work, but I knew what I wanted it to accomplish.  I knew how I wanted people to feel.  I knew how I wanted it to smell and look, and I knew how I wanted the food to taste.

My idea needed a name.  As I was chewing on ideas, I told my husband I wanted it to have a nice ring to it, sort of like The Hurley House had sounded when we lived there.  He was the one who suggested I name the new business Hurley House.  Not only did it sound nice, but whenever someone asked about the name, we would get to share an amazing back story.

And so, Hurley House was born.  I bought a website.  I bought business cards.  I registered all the official documents.  And, of course, I began posting on social media.  Little by little (mostly from my friends), I began to get catering requests.  Cupcakes for a birthday party.  Dinner for a graduation.  Cookies and boxed lunches for clients.  I said yes to everything and figured out how to make it happen along the way.

I like to remind people that Hurley House didn't have a magical fairy-tale beginning.  It grew out of a season of loss and uncertainty.  I didn't have a firm plan, but I knew in my heart what I wanted, and I took whatever steps I could toward that goal.  Baby steps and a lot of hard work have grown a one-sentence dream spoken in a Chick-Fil-A into more than I could have ever imagined.  

The History of THE Hurley House

When people ask about the name of our business, they assume my name is Katherine Hurley.  My name is not Katherine Hurley.  My name is Katherine Sasser, but my family and I did live in a beautiful historic home on Hurley Avenue many years ago.  The name "Hurley House" is a direct call-back to that house.  

We never intended to live in the Hurley House for more than a year.  After quickly selling our home in another part of town, the rental house on Hurley was intended to be a brief hitching post for our family while we looked for our next house to purchase.  The home was breathtaking, bigger than anything we had ever lived in.  The halls were expansive.  The bathrooms were spacious and full of charming details.  There were wood-framed windows that let in the most beautiful light throughout all the rooms.  It was dreamy.

When given all this space, much more than our family needed, our response was to find ways to put it to good use to serve others.  I loved to cook, and nothing made us happier than having people gather around our table together.  So we threw open wide our doors and invited others in to live life with us.  

Fifty college Young Life leaders needed a place to meet on a weekly basis with room to break into teams.  So we hosted their leadership meetings, feeding them a homemade dinner each week.

Bible Studies needed somewhere to meet, so we opened our living room and brewed a lot of coffee.

A very special TCU student named Rachel needed a family and a place to live, so we put our extra bedroom to good use and invited her to live with us.  

That same Rachel turned the Hurley House into a sacred space when she and her now-husband Patrick chose to get married in our living room a few years later.  

Along the way, with all of those people sharing space in our home, coming and going and meeting together, our home became knows as The Hurley House.  And so, the name was born, taking on a life of its own.

I still get a little weepy when I recall our years at the Hurley House.  Yes, the home was lovely.  But it wasn't the walls or the windows that made our time there exquisite.  It was the way of life, of opening and welcoming others, of giving out of abundance only to discover there was always an abundance waiting in return, of watching the space become a place of healing and connection...simply because we welcomed others in and created a space for them.  It's the most beautiful thing I know.  

Opening Day

Today was the big day!  We opened our doors to the public, and you all showed up in spectacular form!

A few highlights from today include multiple flower deliveries (seriously, so many beautiful arrangements!), hugs from friends and family, kids squealing with delight as they dove into their first Sparkle Sandwich Cookie, and a sold-out bakery case by mid-afternoon.  

The tables were full of people talking, connecting, and lingering.  We brewed lots of coffee, figured out we have the wrong kind of trash bags, learned the best place for the forks, and managed to slice cake without any disasters.  We also didn't make near enough food, but we will figure that out and make the necessary adjustments.  

All the happy smiles and high-fives were amazing, but the best part of my day, the richest memory I will hold in my heart, were your tears.  Several of you upon stepping inside and taking a look around, became overwhelmed and began to cry.  It was raw and beautiful, and truly the sweetest gift I can imagine.  

I was moved by your recognition that it isn't the color of the walls or the style of the furniture that makes Hurley House the kind of place you want to be, it's something more that whispers, "Welcome home."  

There is nothing I want more than for you to want to come back to Hurley House because you felt comfortable and cared for.  Nothing.  Thank you for celebrating with us today.  We can't wait to welcome you back again and again!

Waiting

As I sit here writing, I am squirming with internal angst.  You might say I’m in a bad mood.  A funk, perhaps.  Whatever you call it, it’s not pretty.  It’s ugly.

What’s going on?  I’m waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Wait-ING.

We signed a lease back in February for our new store.  We were full of hope and sweet optimism, geared up and ready to get down to the work of transitioning into our new space.  Heck, we even had a detailed timeline mapped out.  Oh, sweet naiveté.

I love Fort Worth with all my heart, but right now our fair city is making a mockery of our precious timeline, and in my head it sounds something like this: “Oh, silly small business owner, did you really think permitting would move according to your schedule?  Aren’t you cute!” 

The plans for our new store have disappeared into the abyss that is the city permitting department, never to be heard from again, or at least not in a timely enough manner for yours truly.  Our plans are somewhere, I’m told, “in process.”  I picture them tied up in red tape, maybe even trapped under a huge stack of papers, trying to cry for help: “Approve me!  Approve me!”

As if the unknown nature of the permitting department wasn’t enough, and just to add a bit of extra fun to the mix, there is absolutely nothing I nor anyone else can do to speed up the approval process.  

And so, I wait.

The really disappointing part is we have now crossed over the threshold of reaching our desired opening date and have had to kiss that dream goodbye.  Now, we are up against a deadline with our current lease, wondering if we are going to be forced to start paying for a space before we even occupy it.  

So what are my options?

The way I see it, there are two choices.  I can choose to continue in my current pathetic pattern (throwing a not-so-quiet tantrum each time I have to shimmy around the teetering tower of boxes in our garage full of supplies and equipment for the store, trying to reach the paper towels, wishing I was actually able to use the items inside the boxes instead of reaching around them), or I can choose to believe that waiting, like most hard things, can bring with it treasures and gifts not found in any other setting. 

For example, patience.  Can we all agree patience is a virtue?  I want to be patient.  Truly.  What I don’t want to do is have to be in situations that force me to be patient.  No one minds being patient when the line at the grocery store is short or when the reply to a request comes quickly.  But throw me into something that challenges my patience (say, for example, a government office controlling my ability to move forward on my business’s desired move-in date), and suddenly I have the patience of a two-year-old.  At best.

The virtues I want to posses, including patience, seem to require me to walk through circumstances I would rather avoid.  So, I get to choose.  I can choose for waiting to be a breeding ground for anger, cynicism, and bitterness.  Or, I can choose for this season of waiting to become a practice ring for patience, contentment, gratitude, trust, and long-suffering.  I am, in truth, the only one that can make this choice.  No one else can learn these lessons for me.  

This isn’t me telling you how it’s done.  This is me telling you I am miffed that I’m not getting what I want when I want it, yet trying my best to embrace this difficult process with honesty and grit.  

The bottom line?

I had hoped by now to be announcing an opening date.

I had hoped by now to be nearing the end of construction.

I had hoped by now to be showing you sneak peak photos of the space.

But instead, I am busy working on some weak spots in my character, which isn’t near as excitingas setting up a store and certainly doesn’t get as many Instagram likes.  

In the mean time, if you or someone you know works in the permitting department for the city of Fort Worth, would you be a lamb and tell them there are some very important plans that require immediate attention?

I’ll be waiting.

What is Kiva?

Kiva.  Pronounced like "diva."  

Kiva.  Not a scam or hoax.  

Kiva.  A tangible way for you to help make the new Hurley House store a reality.

Here's the truth.  Opening a store requires a lot of things, and one of those things is money.  Money, as you know, does not grow on trees, but it does make itself available in a variety of forms.  One form that is really quite fun is through an organization called Kiva Zip.  The people at Kiva Zip are doing amazing things to help small business owners all over the world.  Hurley House is now part of that community too!

Kiva.  Kiva.  Kee-vah.  (Keep repeating it.  It will become less strange.)

Kiva Zip provides character-based, crowd-sourced, interest-free, micro loans which allow small business owners the capital they need to grow their business.  So many fancy words in one little sentence.  Let's break it down.  

Character Based.  Approval for a Kiva loan isn't based on credit scores.  It's based on the character of the loan applicant.  In order for a loan to be publicly published on the Kiva Zip website, the applicant must acquire a certain number of financial backers from their personal network of supporters to prove they have a network of people who will vouch for their character.  Good news!  Hurley House passed the test and our loan is now public.  

Crowd Sourced.  The money doesn't come from a bank.  It comes from individuals (like you!) who believe in our dream and want to make it a reality.  

Interest Free.  We are not charged interest on this loan, which allows our money to go towards things like sheet pans and mixing bowls instead of interest payments.

Micro Loan.  This is a loan.  It is not a gift or a donation.  You will get your money back.  

Hurley House has applied for a $5,000 loan through Kiva to help pay for the equipment in our new store.  For a minimum loan amount of $25, you can jump in an get involved in a very tangible way.  

We have 16 days left to get our loan 100% funded.  If the loan is not fully funded by the end of 16 days, we do not receive any of the money.  That would be a real bummer.

Would you consider loaning Hurley House $25?  Or $50?  Or $100?  Right now we are $3,075 away from our goal of $5,000. 

You can click here to get involved!

The countdown is on!  We will keep you updated.  Thank you for partnering with Hurley House on this exciting adventure!