Did you grow up watching Bob Newhart or the Gilmore Girls?

Are you at work, pondering packing it all in, selling everything and buying that B&B in Maine?

I did just that!

We’d been coming to Mount Desert Island for years and knew we wanted to move here. It was with great joy that we were able to make the move when my other half got a job here. And with my hotel career behind me, it just made sense to buy a small six room bed and breakfast in Bar Harbor to keep me occupied. Famous last words…

One of the many joys of innkeeping is that you meet many wonderful people and a few not so much.  As many innkeepers say “ All of our guests bring us joy, some when they come and some when they leave”. You’ll need to have a sense of humor, infinite patience, a good poker face, and the desire and ability to simply be kind to people to make it in the innkeeping business.

Actually to be really fair, I’d say 99.9% of our guests were wonderful, quirky maybe, but wonderful. The quirks make the fun!

Things do get out of hand though. You know those cute little decorations Geddy’s (and other bars that make cocktails) use on their drinks? It started with a mermaid being left on the vanity, so I cleaned the bathroom, put a couple of inches of water in the sink and left her swimming there. As the days and visits went by, the number and variety of floating companions for our mermaid friend kept growing and the challenge became to find them all. We finally had to put a stop to it when I could only find 7 of the 9 on checkout day. I spent all the next year dreading that another guest would find the missing 2 and be disgusted at my lack of cleanliness.

Dreaming about the beautiful big house you’ll live? Remember that owners quarters are “non revenue producing”, so expect to be in the attic or the basement. That was not an issue for me, but definitely a negative for the new owner when she toured the building. We didn’t use the public areas much and didn’t really even view the Dining Room and Parlor as our home. Space and privacy are an issue, much as you love your guests, you may not enjoy someone hitting you up for information mid-forkful. As Benjamin Franklin noted, “guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”

Running a B&B is never boring; it’s kind of like living in a cross between pinball machine and an improv show. What would you say/when someone shows up for breakfast with no pants…..?  I actually have Pantsless 1 AND Pantsless 2 stories to tell, but to protect the guilty I’m not sharing them here.



If you’re ever sitting in a bar somewhere and a bunch of Innkeepers show up, sooner or later conversation will come around to “special diets”. Now I’m a bit of a foodie (did I mention we made our own bacon?), so I’ve always kind of enjoyed the challenge, but I do remember the morning I looked at our guest board (simply a white board with the rooms, guests names and any needs listed on it), and seeing 10 special diets for a total of 12 people!

The only dietary issue that, to this day, completely mystifies me is the “I don’t eat eggs” scenario. I’m not meaning the vegans/allergies, simply the folks who don’t like a plate of eggs, but don’t think to tell the innkeeper. I mean, it’s breakfast, wouldn’t you think there is a chance you might get served an egg dish? Finding out about the eggs issue after you’ve cooked someone breakfast is a lot more common than you’d think.

These are the days that I considered going with a menu rather than a set dish. I also have to confess to wanting to push people’s food boundaries a bit, so did use some unusual items. I’m still amazed how many people had never had a fresh fig and love the reactions I got to my Watermelon Benedict with a “yolk” of mango juice in an agar agar sphere.

Of course I’d always offer to whip up some eggs if my dish was too out there for someone, though if they “didn’t eat eggs” that was a bit more problematic! Overall, special diets have improved my cooking skills and taught me a lot – once you get past the wanting to shoot the gluten free guest who just ate all the muffins it’s all good!

 



Then of course there’s the things that break, and of course it’s always at the most inopportune time. Picture my face when water starts dripping down the chandelier during breakfast or when I’m cleaning the tub and suddenly there is a faucet in my hand, a copper pipe sticking out of the wall and pretty much water everywhere.

At my new job at Anchorspace (having recently sold my B&B) the toilet was running, so I just went ahead and fixed it. Really, this didn’t even need a replacement of the flapper, just a reposition – no sweat. The reaction from my fellow co-workers? You’d think I’d cured cancer!

Since then, we’ve hung signs, cleaned out sink drains, fixed wonky blinds, and completed a myriad of small household fixes. What have I learned  from this? I’ve realized how owning a B&B demystifies and removes the intimidation factor of home repair, cooking for more than your average family, and how to have a fight with your significant other in secret.

Was it all worth it? Hell Yes! If you’ve got the personality and patience you’ll have a blast.

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