(Jennifer Priest Mitchell is a freelance writer in Beaverton. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Owning your own business is a lot of work. And owning one that is not a franchise can be even more work - you're doing everything from scratch, developing a logo and advertising campaign, and planning every aspect of the storefront and routine logistics. But Wendy House said it is also a lot more fun.

This Sherwood mother of two wanted to own her own business. She and her husband John looked at some franchises and did a lot of research. They wanted a business where they could make independent decisions. They wanted to support the community and help others in need. They wanted to provide a valuable service, but also something healthy and good for people. And they wanted to be able to hire a good staff they could trust, so they could spend quality family time together.

Dinner's on the House took a couple of years to pull together, but it is now and up and running and actually exceeding Wendy's expectations.

'I've saved so many recipes over the years - some of them were my grandmother's. This gives me a chance to share them, and it gives other people a chance to sit down and enjoy family time together,' she said.

Dinner's on the House offers clients the opportunity to go to a fully stocked kitchen and make up dinners ahead of time for their families, all the while letting staff do the clean-up. They also offer a Dinner Tonight option in which you call ahead and order something for pick-up that night. It is different from similar franchises in that Wendy and her husband plan all of the menus and vary the recipes, and can actually seek and implement customer input for recipes.

Dinner's on the House is also unique because they solicit input from the community regarding families in need. Once they receive nominations for families who could use some meals, they identify a family each month and give them 12 meals in that month. The family's need could be due to a financial crisis, health care issue or other challenge they are facing.

'We really want to give back to the community and this is a great way to do it. People really get excited about helping us find others in need, too,' Wendy said.

She explained that she had no background in business and that she and her husband 'just did a ton of research and took this leap of faith and knew it would work out for the best.'

Wendy, a lifelong collector of recipes and one of those people who can always tweak a recipe and add a little something to make it even more special, has a great collection of meals to choose from when planning the company's menus.

She is willing to share one challenge to her cooking career, though: 'I started cooking when I was young. I cooked with my grandma, who was German, and she taught me how to measure using my hand - a handful of this, a pinch of that … and later on in life, I had to translate all of those into measurements other people could understand and use!'

Wendy works as a pharmacist one day a week and John works as an engineer at Intel.

'We have a great staff and we all work together so well. This allows us to share the responsibility of running the business, and also to spend time with our children,' she said. 'Somehow we make it all work.'

Natives of California, the Houses were high school sweethearts. They said they love Oregon because of its climate, greenery, and calmness.

'Everybody here is so friendly and so relaxed,' Wendy said. 'There's no place I'd rather be.'

For more information on Dinner's on the House, located in Sherwood, go to or call 503-925-8505.

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