Question about types of breakfast

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Is there a difference between a continental breakfast and a self catered breakfast?  They seem to be the same, but is there a difference?

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We have tried open seating and set time.  I will never do open seating again.  This is way to much work for the innkeeper. We decided we have a  Bed and Breakfast not a Restaurant. We serve breakfast at 9am.  This gives us the ability to make sure everything is hot all at once and we can serve all the food then.  This also gives us great time with the guests.  We are able to sit down with them and talk.  We have a fireplace in our dining room with nice leather wing back chairs and we sit down with a cup of coffee and really get to know people.  We get up and give warm ups on coffee and take plates and things.  Then after they are finished they either stay and talk if its a great group.  Or sometimes one couple will get up and then the rest follow.  Even with a set time of 9am we still get people every once in awhile that will stroll in at 9:45 but not to many.  From the time we start cooking in the morning until clean up is about 3 hours and we have a max of 14 people.  On Sundays we serve at 8am.  Many people like this and we do to. If they want to be able to go to Church they can. Also they tend to leave earlier and we can get our work finished earlier and have an extra hour of family time on Sundays.  Weaver!  I am excited for you in your new adventure.  If I sold our Bed and Breakfast and wanted to start another one,  I would build it from the ground up.  The older generation will soon not be traveling as much.  The 20’s and 30’s crowed will be your customers.  So you need to give them what they are growing up with.  They will want the new and high tech experience. Im not saying the older homes are not going to get business.  They will.  That said, I do feel it will be the older people that will be staying in the older properties.

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There may be legal reasons for the terminology as well, I know there are regions where you may not cook any food for guests, so the self catered is what they may call it. There are others who are not allowed to use the term B&B, so they do that as well, and of course holidays cabins/rentals call it self catered. They leave coffee, muffins and fruit for you to help yourself in your own room/cabin.

Continental makes it appear like a real breakfast, and many times it is not. I remember the continental I had in London at a British Airways promoted hotel. It was one cup of coffee and two slices of thin toast, your choice marmalade or peanut butter from a small packet. Why of course you could upgrade to the full English breakfast for another $15 bucks per person. We ended up going to Starbucks for something more substantial.

In Palm Springs many years ago the continental was included - they boasted this as part of the room rate - and it was: a box of Entennmans danishes put out for all the units and one pot of coffee.

I believe this is why our guests question what sort of breakfast is included, and a good reason for us to expound upon this on our websites/blogs.  Too many of us have been short changed in the breakfast arena at B&B's.

So in a nustshell self catered means in your room fridge or pantry, and continental means "come and get it" but there isn't much to get. Recently we stopped at McDonald's for food after a continental left us with empty carbs and hunger. An old brown banana was the only fruit option. I was actually surprised at how good the big breakfast was at McDonald's, but then we were quite hungry by this point.

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I had a really nice couple on their holidays and they had this tea and 2 slices of toast crap at a london hotel was not impressed they were selling it as breakfast! When they came they couldn't believe that they got all the buffet stuff plus cooked breakfast for less money than they were paying there and it was nicer here to! Had to explain it about 3 times for them to believe me.

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 I dont see them as the same, continental is a light breakfast placed out for guests to help themselves. Usually light stuff such as fruit, juice, cereals, some type of breads. Self catered to me means something where you placed the ingredients for a breakfast in the cabin/ cottage, or apt for them to make their own breakfast. Though I have stayed in a B & B which had no innkeeper, but a kitchen full of stuff, frozen waffles, etc where you just helped yourself and made your own.

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catlady wrote:

 I dont see them as the same, continental is a light breakfast placed out for guests to help themselves. Usually light stuff such as fruit, juice, cereals, some type of breads. Self catered to me means something where you placed the ingredients for a breakfast in the cabin/ cottage, or apt for them to make their own breakfast. Though I have stayed in a B & B which had no innkeeper, but a kitchen full of stuff, frozen waffles, etc where you just helped yourself and made your own.

No Innkeeper?  So someone greeted you at arrival, checked you in, and then you were on your own?  What was the experience like?

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Olga wrote:

No Innkeeper?  So someone greeted you at arrival, checked you in, and then you were on your own?  What was the experience like?

We stayed in two of THESE cottages last summer in Little Rock, and we loved it. I reserved 2 of their 3 cottages online, they e-mailed us instructions, policies, and a different 4-digit keypad code for each cottage. We arrived at 9:30 p.m., punched in the codes on the front doors, and went in and lived there 3 nights. Didn't see a soul until the next day.

Each morning there would be a 9 a.m. knock at the door and a hot breakfast basket was delivered to us. We set it back out on the porch after breakfast and they picked it up later.

We never saw the owner but did chat briefly with the lady who delivered breakfast. We loved being left alone in our own little houses. We would have been just as happy in their "real" B&B around the corner too, but the independence of having the houses to ourselves was great.

There was no housekeeping while we were there. They only clean it after you check out, or once a week for longer stays. This is pretty much the same format I'll be using for the vacation rental apartments I'll be opening this fall.

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That reminds me of one of my favorite movies. It is Same Time Next Year. Smiling

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 Actually no one greeted us. It was a holiday so they were off. We were on our own totally. A very weird experience for sure. Albeit was my hometown and I knew the owners but still no one present in this location was kind of creepy. They knew we were innkeepers so they probably thought we would be fine. No one else was in the place but us.

It was a former funeral home where Pretty Boy Floyd was done up in the basement and laid out in the parlor Sad

The manager did show up the day after Christmas after breakfast and we chatted quite a bit. But still was weird.

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catlady wrote:

 Actually no one greeted us. It was a holiday so they were off. We were on our own totally. A very weird experience for sure. Albeit was my hometown and I knew the owners but still no one present in this location was kind of creepy. They knew we were innkeepers so they probably thought we would be fine. No one else was in the place but us.

It was a former funeral home where Pretty Boy Floyd was done up in the basement and laid out in the parlor Sad

The manager did show up the day after Christmas after breakfast and we chatted quite a bit. But still was weird.

Oh, yes, that does sound a bit creepy, lol.

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If I saw 'continental' I would assume someone laid the breakfast out each morning in the dining room. 'Self-catered' implies there is a fridge in the room where everything is stored and that I probably have to bring some of it myself.

That's my take on those words.

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If a bed and breakfast had 3 or 4 rooms, would it be worth doing a continental breakfast, or better to do a served breakfast?

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Olga wrote:

If a bed and breakfast had 3 or 4 rooms, would it be worth doing a continental breakfast, or better to do a served breakfast?

In a way we do both. We have various items out for people to help themselves..... cereals, fruit, yogs, juices .... and then we cook 1 item for them from the daily menu. I think guests here would be very disappointed if they weren't offered something served/cooked.

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Highlands John wrote:

Olga wrote:

If a bed and breakfast had 3 or 4 rooms, would it be worth doing a continental breakfast, or better to do a served breakfast?

In a way we do both. We have various items out for people to help themselves..... cereals, fruit, yogs, juices .... and then we cook 1 item for them from the daily menu. I think guests here would be very disappointed if they weren't offered something served/cooked.

I like that idea.

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that is very much like our model. if you need to be out before 7:30 you have all the things you mentioned. from 7:30 to 9:00 there are "hot choices" as well.  people do seem to appreciate this with the before and after breakfast time people still able to have something "substantial"

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that is very much like our model. if you need to be out before 7:30 you have all the things you mentioned. from 7:30 to 9:00 there are "hot choices" as well.  people do seem to appreciate this with the before and after breakfast time people still able to have something "substantial"

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Olga wrote:

If a bed and breakfast had 3 or 4 rooms, would it be worth doing a continental breakfast, or better to do a served breakfast?

We only have two rooms, soon to add two more, but I would not think of anything other than a served breakfast. Especially at the prices here in Charlottesville. As a matter of fact we serve local organic chemical free eggs, sausage, bacon etc. 

RIki

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Olga wrote:

If a bed and breakfast had 3 or 4 rooms, would it be worth doing a continental breakfast, or better to do a served breakfast?

See THIS post where K said, "Started with Continental Plus - switched quickly to full breakfast (guests were disappointed and full is easier)". Perhaps you can ask her to elaborate on it.

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Arkansawyer wrote:

Olga wrote:

If a bed and breakfast had 3 or 4 rooms, would it be worth doing a continental breakfast, or better to do a served breakfast?

See THIS post where K said, "Started with Continental Plus - switched quickly to full breakfast (guests were disappointed and full is easier)". Perhaps you can ask her to elaborate on it.

K is baaaack!! MY definitions:

Continental = coffee, juice, and sweet rolls/bagels/toast

Continental Plus: All the above plus fruit but I did several kinds of breads and muffins (guests expected BREAKFAST!)

Self-catered: Food in fridge and cabinets. You cook it / we clean it up.

Catered: We deliver a basket/tray

Full Breakfast: juice, fruit, entree (sometimes with sausage or bacon depending on the entree), coffee/tea - this is actually easier than trying to bake 4 or 5 kinds of muffins and breads plus dealing with the leftovers.)

Since I started out with 3 w/shared I tried to make up for my deficiencies with SERVICE. Breakfast has always been "you tell me what time" but the time window changed after I started the overnight stabling. Breakfast is served between 4 AM and 10 AM, at the time the guests tell me. Thankfully the 4 AM is rare even with the horse people - 6 AM is the usual for them. I have 3 rooms and will sometimes have 3 breakfast times. No problem - all get the same breakfast, I just stagger the time I put it in the oven. I am not a "short-order" cook. Breakfast is cook's choice.

The most I have served at one breakfast is 11 - they were the family of a new-minted Eagle Scout and our gift to him was for him and the family members staying at his house joining the 3 aunts & husbands who were staying here for breakfast. His Mom was able to have a nice breakfast with everyone and NOT worry about serving. They were "cheek-to-jowl" at the table but no one cared. I have several breakfasts I can make that will serve that many. Our usual full-house is 6 to 7 bodies. This makes almost more dishes than DH can handle these days. That extra 2 or 3 place settings are a killer for him.

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"guests were disappointed and full is easier

Sounds odd, but true.  For a few rooms, it is easier for me to do full, to order breakfast.  They get what they want, when they want it and I have way less food waste and less work making and keeping food fresh when no one is there to eat it.  When I have 4 rooms or more eating more or less at the same time, I'll do full breakfast as a buffet. 

Fresh fruit is a big food cost, and unless you only put out a bowl of unprepared fruit (motel!), it doesn't keep, so a nice fruit presentation has to be fresh and can't be served the next day.

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 That depends on you and how much you want to do. We had a 3 room place and we always served breakfast. I think it is quite expected from the smaller B & B's...I mean that is what it is about. Bed and Breakfast. If people want continental, they can go to a hotel.

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Totally agree! A bed and breakfast should be a sit down served meal! If I want to serve my self I will stay at a hotel! When we stay at B & B's I want to be pampered! We have had a lot of guests over the years that stayed with us because we serve a hot meal! We always make something different everyday. The guests love that. We also never tell them the day before what we will be serving. Unless it is a repeat and they request something. It's a surprise each morning and they love that!

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 I agree....both on the meaning of the terms "continental  vs. self-catered" and the advantages of serving a full breakfast if you are a small B+B.  We are the only small B+B, in a popular destination, that serves a full breakfast.  Granted, we had to go through all the training, testing and permitting to be able to cook and serve food, but we also charge more and appeal to those looking for more "luxury" and pampering.  This is totally consistent with our unique location, limited availability and "boutique B+B" branding.  

On the down side, making a full, freshly baked, home-cooked breakfast every day for months on end can be exhausting.  If you were large enough to hire someone to help out then it would make sense.  If you are small and doing all the work yourself you may find it easier to manage if you choose one of the other options.

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Silverspoon wrote:

 

On the down side, making a full, freshly baked, home-cooked breakfast every day for months on end can be exhausting.  If you were large enough to hire someone to help out then it would make sense.  If you are small and doing all the work yourself you may find it easier to manage if you choose one of the other options.

I don't think we're as busy as you are given your location vs mine but we generally go non-stop from May-Oct. We can have up to 17 in the house at the same time and it's just us doing the breakfast. Yes, it is exhausting to try to come up with something that suits the dietary restrictions but isn't cardboard on toast. The cooking part is easier than the planning part but maybe I'm saying that because I'm the planner and not the cook!

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Bless your heart...17 for breakfast?? OMG shoot me!   I would say that your "season" and ours are about the same, but we only have 6 for breakfast.  I can't imagine how you plan and cook for 17 with all the dietary issues these days.  I have my hands full planning for just 6!  I am the planner and the shopper and the cook (and the bookeeper, housekeeper and gardener).  But you are correct...the planning is more work than the cooking. 

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That was a typo. It's actually 18. Yeah, that one extra person is the straw to the camel's back!

That is a completely full house. Every bed with the requisite number of guests. We're usually closer to 14-16 on a typical summer day. Anywhere from 2-5 of those being kids.

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With several oppotunities on the horizon, I am finding myself having to think harder about some of these questions as I may very well be taking the leap sooner rather than later.  If you hire help (cost aside - assuming it is justified by volume) how do you split time attending to guests entering the dining room and being a control freak in the kitchen?  ie wanting to control the preparation/cooking/plating part as well as being an attentive host. 

The three properties are very different and thus breakfast would be too.

Option three is raw land and I could build and create whatever I wanted. (yes I have said I don't like "build it they will come". But...this may be the right choice for the longer term.)

Does anyone have hired help in the kitchen?

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If you hire help you delegate, you do not spend your time in the kitchen watching them work. You hire trustworthy people and you get on with what you are going to do. That's how you divvy up your time.

My DH cooks. I serve and socialize. I do not stand around watching him cook unless he's ready to plate and I need to hand him the dishes.

New word: delegate!

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Madeleine wrote:

If you hire help you delegate, you do not spend your time in the kitchen watching them work. You hire trustworthy people and you get on with what you are going to do. That's how you divvy up your time.

My DH cooks. I serve and socialize. I do not stand around watching him cook unless he's ready to plate and I need to hand him the dishes.

New word: delegate!

I am vaguely familar with that word....guess we will have to become better friends. Laughing out loud  OK well I guess a cook/chef or maybe a DH will go in the budget if I go with the larger place. 

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Weaver wrote:

Madeleine wrote:

If you hire help you delegate, you do not spend your time in the kitchen watching them work. You hire trustworthy people and you get on with what you are going to do. That's how you divvy up your time.

My DH cooks. I serve and socialize. I do not stand around watching him cook unless he's ready to plate and I need to hand him the dishes.

New word: delegate!

I am vaguely familar with that word....guess we will have to become better friends. Laughing out loud  OK well I guess a cook/chef or maybe a DH will go in the budget if I go with the larger place. 

See that is a story idea. Single female innkeeper looking for good lookin' male cook/dishwasher, just wonder how much of an increase in occupancy for girls getaways there would be if there was a single good lookin' cook/dishwasher?

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How about:

"Seeking former Chippendale Dancer that cooks for unique opportunity."

 

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Weaver wrote:

"Seeking former Chippendale Dancer that cooks for unique opportunity."

 

Be careful what you wish for...

 

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TTTTOOOOOOOOOOO FUNNNNNNNY!

Yes, I should be careful what I wish for.  How about "Extremely fit, good looking former Chippendale ......"

Or

Attractive, fit, single, confident chef, enjoys flirting over coffee, must do dishes, no table dancing or windows required."

 

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Joey Bloggs wrote:
See that is a story idea. Single female innkeeper looking for good lookin' male cook/dishwasher

I believe that is already being done.  The extremely prolific romance author who has a B&B near me (her initials are N R) has already published the first book of a trilogy with the setting of her B&B.  Also, I'm pretty sure she married her carpenter.  Not that there's anything wrong with that - by all accounts, he is a very nice guy and she is very generous to her town.

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muirford wrote:

Joey Bloggs wrote:
See that is a story idea. Single female innkeeper looking for good lookin' male cook/dishwasher

I believe that is already being done.  The extremely prolific romance author who has a B&B near me (her initials are N R) has already published the first book of a trilogy with the setting of her B&B.  Also, I'm pretty sure she married her carpenter.  Not that there's anything wrong with that - by all accounts, he is a very nice guy and she is very generous to her town.

I think I have seen a half dozen women reading that book already. Dang, thought it was original. Does she really write that many books are there ghost writers? In any event, still think it could bring in a better occupancy. haha

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That is not a bad point at all. I bet your girlfriend getaways would double if your hubby was the frontman. (You can tell him I said so.)

I know a LOT of our female guests (married and single) love coming down early to talk with DH. He's 'comfortable' which could be taken as insulting if you're priding yourself on your good looks or macho-ness, but he doesn't. It's one of the lovable things about him, he makes guests comfortable, too.

However, back to your point...it's a great story idea. Would make a fun book or series. Even some short stories. Back in the day, Cary Grant would have played the lead in the movie. Now, maybe Hugh Grant.

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 If you own a B&B you typically work the B&B, meaning cooking and serving, and interacting with guests, if you own a larger inn, then you hire help. 

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Joey Bloggs wrote:

 If you own a B&B you typically work the B&B, meaning cooking and serving, and interacting with guests, if you own a larger inn, then you hire help. 

Two of the three options would be B&B style "Inns" the third would be small enough that no help would be needed.

One is 9 rooms the other would be 12+.  So I guess I may need to loose some control. Eye-wink

 

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A busy inn with 12+ rooms will need quite a bit of staff.   I worked at one.  And even a semi-busy inn of that size will need plenty of hired help because you don't want to kill yourself.

I served breakfast during a time span every morning, but I had the guests choose their breakfast time during that range.  I left a breakfast form on their door for them to fill out and return to the check-in area by 9PM on the night before.  This worked very well for me since I could anticipate their arrival and also allowed the guests flexibility.  If they wanted breakfast at 8 am one day and 9 am the next, OK by me. 

When we were totally full, that meant 14 for breakfast, which the dining room couldn't accommodate.  On those days, I did two seatings and the guests had to sign up in the check-in area for that on a first come first serve basis.  Many times I could avoid having to do the 2 set time seatings if I had folks getting breakfast delivered to their rooms. 

You can always change and adapt what you do!

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Yes, FULL full for us was 33. That's a HECK of a lot of people take care of. I can't fathom a 12 room in as a solo. Figure 45 minutes per room for a flip. 15-20 for a fluff, that's 8+ hour of cleaning for a full-house flip and 3 hours to fluff. Plus clean up from brekkie, answer phones, take care of the guests, and on and on and on... No way. Death in months.

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Weaver wrote:

Joey Bloggs wrote:

 If you own a B&B you typically work the B&B, meaning cooking and serving, and interacting with guests, if you own a larger inn, then you hire help. 

Two of the three options would be B&B style "Inns" the third would be small enough that no help would be needed.

One is 9 rooms the other would be 12+.  So I guess I may need to loose some control. Eye-wink

 

I worked in a 12 room B&B for 5 years. It will kill you to do it ALL by yourself. You will be dead within 6 months. No joke. No lie.

 

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Weaver wrote:

Joey Bloggs wrote:

 If you own a B&B you typically work the B&B, meaning cooking and serving, and interacting with guests, if you own a larger inn, then you hire help. 

Two of the three options would be B&B style "Inns" the third would be small enough that no help would be needed.

One is 9 rooms the other would be 12+.  So I guess I may need to loose some control. Eye-wink

 

yes let 'er loose. Smiling

12 rooms depends on how you serve breakfast, if it is an open breakfast seating time, or whether or not you take payments at check in or check out, etc. Guests always have questions at or after breakfast so you need to be available for sure, one way or the other.  Breakfast is the best time of the day with the guests, everyone is energized and there is always laughter and excitement. I love that part of this biz!

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This is not going to be easy, maybe a 12 step program for breakfast control freaks. There are two driving forces here, my love, utterly total whole bodied love for breakfast, and my adoration for people.  I love the interaction but it is best when I get to see them eating and enjoying (hopefully) what I have carefully prepared for them. 

If I go big I will have to pick the "help" carefully (read: anal retentive perfectionist).  Anybody got any good leads for cloning innkeepers?  Might reduce the need for meetings.  Could be another income stream.  Great for off season, take a vacation (reduce heart attack risk) and clone yourself! Sorry off-topic. 

 

12 rooms depends on how you serve breakfast, if it is an open breakfast seating time, or whether or not you take payments at check in or check out, etc. Guests always have questions at or after breakfast so you need to be available for sure, one way or the other.

So how many of you do "open seating"? Do you find that better for you or for the guests?  As a guest I have enjoyed the set breakfast time, means more time with the innkeeper at the end of the meal.  But then again I like schedules.

 

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Keeping in mind that we only have 3 rooms, with a maximum of 6 for breakfast, do not hire help and serve a full 3 course hot breakfast in the dining room, we have found a set time works best for us. However, we have worked some flexibility into serving at a fixed time to avoid being slammed on TA for being rigid.  Our stated breakfast policy is that breakfast is served at 8:30 with the hot entree available between 8:30-9:00. (In reality if everyone is seated at 8:30 the entree comes out about 8:45 but can be kept warm for an additional 15 with no problem.  Souffles can be tricky so we only make them when we have guests we know will show up at 8:30). Muffins, fruit, juice and cereal are available until 9:30.  We make accommodations for guests who are taking courses (a big part of our summer business) and need a breakfast served at 8:15 by serving them early but letting the other guests know that we will be serving early.  Usually, everyone shows up as early as possible so they don't miss out on the breakfast. 

For the guests who want to sleep in we suggest that they reserve the cottage or the large suite in the main house and pay extra to have the full breakfast delivered to them.  They can sleep until noon, reheat the hot entree and be happy as clams.

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I wish I had the patience to serve later. Many days it is just the 2 of us and if we have even one room push the 9:30 end time (by showing up at 9:30 and then wanting to talk or read the paper before eating) we are not happy campers. I know a few times I've irritated guests because they are reading and I am putting food down on the table in front of them.

Or, they are in the living room reading and I politely suggest sitting down to eat and they reply, 'We'll be in when were done with the paper.' At which point I have to say, 'The cereal is right here, please help yourself, we're closing the kitchen.' Grumble grumble.

We tell guests what time we serve. It is written on the board over the coffee. It is on the welcome sheet in their room. It's on the website. I can't do much else other than ask them at check in what time. And believe me, the VERY few times we have done that makes me wonder how anyone can handle asking guests when they want to eat.

I would say 75-80% of guests have said, 'We don't know now, we'll tell you later,' and never do so we're up at 5AM and they don't show until 9:30, if at all. Try to narrow it down? They get tetchy. I have suggested a time, 'Does 9 AM work for you?' Same response, they don't know.

It's one reason we have the open time. That and not being able to seat everyone. And not having to keep 18 breakfasts warm while we wait for everyone to sit down.

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09/29/2011

Weaver wrote:

This is not going to be easy, maybe a 12 step program for breakfast control freaks. There are two driving forces here, my love, utterly total whole bodied love for breakfast, and my adoration for people.  I love the interaction but it is best when I get to see them eating and enjoying (hopefully) what I have carefully prepared for them. 

 

So how many of you do "open seating"? Do you find that better for you or for the guests?  As a guest I have enjoyed the set breakfast time, means more time with the innkeeper at the end of the meal.  But then again I like schedules.

 

Sounds like set seating would work best for you. You do the cooking with a 'sous chef- waiter' helper. Once everyone is served, you wash up and go chat. The helper cleans the kitchen. The housekeeping staff start whenever is appropriate.

NEVER give over the jobs you love, you'll hate it.

We do open seating because we cannot seat all 18 guests at once. We're good for 11, 14 if some want to eat in the lounge. It generally flows pretty well until you get that one couple who thought they could wait until 9 AM, run down, grab their food and make the ferry at 9:15. Unhappy campers. Their problem for not planning.

We are very proactive with guests who tell us they have to be somewhere at a set time. We will tell them how long the breakfast takes to cook (almost everyone thinks we're just reheating yesterday's leftovers and they don't plan for cooking times) and how long it takes to get where they're going. And we always suggest they arrive before open seating starts so they're not having to wait.

But, if they don't tell us, we don't know.

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