Breakfast Dilemma

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 Some of you may have already read this already, but I need advice on how to proceed.

Our house is more of a historic  - hand built house.  Thus, there is no dining room.  All of the other suites have *private* entrances detached from the main house.  One suite, the biggest and best, has a private drive and I'd have to walk around a little to get to the door.  We have purchased a nice patio table that we will put underneath our over hang.  We have also purchased private patio furniture if they want to eat on their terrace or patio.  The third option is to eat in-room.  The main room has a full kitchen with counter top to eat there.  The smallest suite has a nice table to eat in as well.  The other would be more of a couch meal.  

So, the problem is that there is no *indoor* dining area other than in-room.  If the weather is nice, we would gladly cook breakfast and serve it at the communual table.  If not, we *could* serve it in-room.  However, getting hot food to the biggest suite is a bit of a challenge.  I'd have to walk up a little hill and/or put it in the back of my car and deliver it.  Not really an option for a good hot breakfast.  

So the options are (unless you can give me a creative solution):

1.  Serve on continental breakfast and call ourselve an Inn

2.  Serve continental in-room or communual (weather permitting)

3.  Serve hot dishes on nice weather days and continental on not so nice days

4.  Say we serve continental only and on nice days surprise them with an offer for a full breakfast

The rooms are *really* nice, great location, quiet, very historic, everything is in-place except the breakfast part.  We would offer great continental (home made, cinnamon rolls, etc.) so... hmm.

What say you? 

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I've stayed at a B&B that had no common dining area but they served a buffet breakfast in the common hallway between certain hours.  Just show up and help yourself.  It could have worked out well but the shortcomings were that every room did not have a place to sit and eat and they ran out of trays to carry your food back to your room each morning I was there.  You could do something like that if you addressed those issues.

Or, you could deliver breakfast to the room in a basket which many people really enjoy.  Again, I think you need to have a comfortable place to eat breakfast in the room with that set up too.

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egoodell's picture
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 There are small tables built for two that are attached to a wall that when not used flip up and attach on the wall.  You can buy them or build them. Then you only need two chairs in the room.

Riki

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Weaver's picture
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I found a great solution for your table/space issues.  Look at http://www.homedecorators.com/detail.php?parentid=4380500&cartId=22930910 

you can fold it up to a console table or turn it into a small or large dining table when needed.

This along with creative picnic baskets, innovative hot entrees with thermal packaging, you could have a very nice breakfast service without having to require the guests to come down to the common patio.  Thus focusing on the solitude and privacy which your inn seems to lean toward.

 

EmptyNest's picture
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 You can get these on Amazon too. Here's another version...http://www.touchofclass.com/mission-convertible-table/p/A494-001/

I like this one from Pier One: http://www.pier1.com/Catalog/Furniture/tabid/981/CategoryId/972/ProductId/29369/language/en-US/Default.aspx?ProductName=McBride-Convertible-Table--Rubbed-Black/Mahogany

Another option less expensive: http://www.accent-furniture-direct.com/Wayborn-Jones-Wooden-Table-9003-WYB1500.html

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03/21/2012

 Measured yesterday and we have a perfect spot for one.  We're going to get a bistro table (counter high) that will let you look out the window with two chairs that fit underneath the table.  Small footprint, but allows an eating area.  Good to go.  Thank you!

Happy Keeper's picture
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I love it! It sounds so much better if folks have a little nook where they can (or you can) make a nice little breakfast with the goodies you bring them.

Yeah!

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Joey Camb's picture
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In the UK we have a thing like the historic register but it has 3 levels ie 1 - can't change anything complete nightmare, 2 can change things with approval by gov officials and must be like for like. 3- have to have structural stuff approved but anything else is fine. We arn't any of that thank goodness! but we are in a conservation area and a business which means when we wanted to change our wooden sliding sash windows for plastic double glazed copies we had a fight on our hands but we won. (I am not paying out $6000 dollars every 3 years for painting if I can manage it! would rather invest in never having it done again) Mind you since we got our planning permission virtually every place on the street has had it done or is planning to!

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 Remember not everyone likes or wants communal dining. So it is a give and take. As long as there is something nice provided!

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Madeleine's picture
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I'd like to ask some questions before responding.

  1. You are due to open in a month, right?
  2. Did you make a business plan?
  3. If so, in that business plan, where did you see guests eating?
  4. What was the plan for providing food?
  5. What is the plan for cleaning up after that food service?
  6. What are you planning to make for these guests?

I'm not trying to be a grouch here, but you seem to have the cart before the horse. 'Let's open a B&B and then figure out how to run it.'

Let me ask some more questions:

  1. On your own vacation, how amenable would you be to arriving at your B&B to find you were going to have to get a lunch room tray to take your food back to your room in the rain, snow, sleet, bugs, blazing sun? (Sorry, I am not familiar with the weather in Boise, maybe it's like Vegas and it rains for 2 hours once/year so what I am worrying about isn't really a concern. Please enlighten me if eating outdoors 'in season' is something everyone there does and I'm way off course to think it's odd. Maybe the weather is a balmy 75 all the time. I really don't know. I just assumed cold, rain and bugs as part of the scenery.)
  2. Would you expect to carry your breakfast to your room? (Are you going to serve the guests if they're seated at the patio table? How will you know they are there?)
  3. If you are not really going to be interacting with the guests over breakfast (because they are going to be loading up their trays to go back to their rooms or out to the patio) why bother with breakfast at all?

I think al fresco dining is a wonderful addition to the breakfast service. We have friends who regularly serve on their covered porch in the summer. Cool breezes, great view, it's really nice. But, when the fog rolls in, everyone comes inside to eat. I am not able to imagine what the guests would think if they were told there is no place else but the porch or their room.

I will respond with what I think you should do but I want to know more about your plans before I spend more time helping. How much planning have you actually done?

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 An official take it to the "venture capitalists" business plan was not created.  Originally we were thinking of creating a sunroom, but we don't have the money right now and we don't want to shake up the facade of the house.  Everything else was carefully planned -- we just can't find an elegant solution to the breakfast dilemma, but I do have one avenue I'm going to explore.

The weather is Boise most of the year is dry (very dry) and the patio furniture would sit under an awning - would offer it three seasons at least.  If the weather doesn't fit, then *we* would deliver nicely done picnic baskets to the rooms with nice linens, silverware, and a host of creative continental food like scones, bagels with lox, breakfast sandwiches.  This serves three purposes.  It adds clarity to the breakfast situation, they get it delivered to the room giving them a choice on where they want to eat, and it's like a surprise when they open it -- with a large variety of goodies.  

Look, I'm not saying it's the most optimal.  Obviously we would like to have a formal dining room to seat everyone, but we don't.  I think I'm going to take the advice of another poster who said we should emphasize the privacy and seclusion and choice.  One room has a full kitchen, the other a kitchenette, and the other has a bistro set in-room and on the patio.  The communal table is very close to two of the rooms and a small walk from the other.  

I just want to be upfront with the guests with no surprises.  If they know this upfront, hopefully they will understand.  Our rates are a little lower as a result of the lack of 'always on' communual dining.  

K

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A business plan is an operating manual for your business, not just something to take to the bank for money.

You NEED this so you know how to spend your time and your money. You need to know who is going to do the cleaning, when it is going to get done, are you going to clean everyday or just when the guests leave, are you supplying amenities in the rooms, how did you go about buying them, who does the taxes, who does the bookkeeping, who does the website, the marketing, the shopping for food, who makes the food, who cleans the kitchen. This is the kind of business plan I mean.

You also need a biz plan so you can chart your progress. What is your goal for the first year in biz? Break even? Make a little money? How much? What will you do for cash reserves in the event of a major appliance needing to be replaced? How will you handle an on site emergency when you are full?

Obviously you saw the problem with the dining as you bought a patio set. You also provided kitchen supplies in each room.

So, what I would do to avoid misconceptions about what it is you do is to pick ONE option only. It appears the best option is the delivered continental breakfast. Delivery to all rooms, even if you have to drive your car up the hill to the other room, YOU are the host, do not make the guests work! You can supply juice and coffee in each room utilizing the fridge and a nice coffee machine. Delivery at a set time so guests know when to expect it, or you ask on arrival when they want it.

Lots of B&B's only have continental because they are not allowed to serve a hot breakfast. As long as you are perfectly clear on your website what you are serving, guests will have less cause to complain. I would be very clear when making reservations on the phone as well. 'We serve a lovely continentla breakfast delivered right to your door every morning.'

Plan to change it up each day the same guests are staying so they don't say, 'Yeah, it was nice but not the same thing 4 days in a row. We were taking bets...blueberry muffins again today?'

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Madeleine wrote:

A business plan is an operating manual for your business, not just something to take to the bank for money.

You NEED this so you know how to spend your time and your money. You need to know who is going to do the cleaning, when it is going to get done, are you going to clean everyday or just when the guests leave, are you supplying amenities in the rooms, how did you go about buying them, who does the taxes, who does the bookkeeping, who does the website, the marketing, the shopping for food, who makes the food, who cleans the kitchen. This is the kind of business plan I mean.

And, it's OK to change that plan (and your business decisions) - it's not static.  I'm opening an inn as well in the next few months.  I created an initial business plan for my own benefit.  In the beginning, it was very high-level with the vision, high-level plan of operations, assumptions and projections.  And I just note details as we figure them out,   tweak original assumptions and update projections.   I also mark decisions that I'm not sure about, to pay special attention to.

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My house is 100 this year and the LAST thing I want is to be on the Historic Register. No offense, but it is MY house and MY money and I do not want anyone telling what I can or cannot do other than the building permits in my City.

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 Do a delivered breakfast to the rooms - the best, most special continental plus breakfast that you can do - and emphasize the privacy and seclusion.  There are other B&Bs that do that successfully - some do lovely hot four-course breakfasts delivered to the room - and some people love it because they hate to eat breakfast with other people!  Don't get too hung up on inn vs. B&B - our name is 'Inn', we are really a B&B, we don't serve any other meals (most inns do) but we still manage to convey what you're going to get with our website and marketing.  That's what you need to make sure you get right - setting the expectation for breakfast.

Have some lovely picnic baskets with stoneware, linens and silverware - no disposables.  Have thermoses for milk, coffee, smoothies; make homemade granola; make homemade sweet muffins and savory scones; have a baked cobbler that can be served room temperature for the fruit dish; do scotch eggs or homemade egg breakfast sandwiches for protein.  There are a lot of options for some wonderful breakfasts that go beyond continental (most people think muffin and coffee).  

Last but not least, find a way to put a table that can used for dining (even if it's a coffee table) in the room that you are saying would be a 'couch meal'.  Nothing would irritate me more than going to a place that promotes a nice in-room breakfast and having no place to set it up.  

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muirford wrote:

 

Last but not least, find a way to put a table that can used for dining (even if it's a coffee table) in the room that you are saying would be a 'couch meal'.  Nothing would irritate me more than going to a place that promotes a nice in-room breakfast and having no place to set it up.  

I was at a place that had a coffee table that extended up to the couch to be a table at couch-sitting-height- very cool

 

I'll see if I can find a photo...

Unfinished coffee table that extends

 

 

EmptyNest's picture
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 I have seen these I think at Ikea and at a local Grand's Furniture. So you can buy them finishes. I think Laz boy has them too.

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03/21/2012

 Thank you.  That is *excellent* advice.  I think the picnic baskets is a killer idea.  It's like a present they open up with a whole bunch of goodies in.  LOVE IT.  They can always come down and sit together at the patio time as long as it's nice out.  Like everyone having a picnic.  Man, that's great advice.  Thank you SO much.

We are ordering a small bistro set for the 'couch' room.  It will be bar height and you'll be able to look out the window.  Well said...

Thanks again.

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One of my fave B&B stays was a place in California with only one room - the innkeeper delivered a hot breakfast to our room with fresh ground coffee in a French press pot.  Delicious food, nice linens and tableware.  We had a bistro table & chairs set in the room.  We loved the privacy and pampering!  It's all in the presentation and the details. 

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ktuskey wrote:
I think the picnic baskets is a killer idea.

Here is a place that does that due to health department restrictions.  And cutie-patootie Jamie Oliver has some ideas.

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 The paperwork is already in to be put on the national historic registry.  It's already been approved now we're just waiting for the official stamp.  Very might be a stretch, but historic none the less.

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ktuskey wrote:

 The paperwork is already in to be put on the national historic registry.  It's already been approved now we're just waiting for the official stamp.  Very might be a stretch, but historic none the less.

oooh. I have heard nothing but grief from those on the historic registry. They can't do a thing without permission and can't replace anything unless it is authentic - they cant' install windows that will save energy as the glass has to be 100 years old etc.  I too would not want to be in that position. 

RIki

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 That has not been our experience at all.  We have a house, 150 years old, located inside a National Park in a 100+ acre area that is listed on the National Historic Register.  We had a choice of placing the house on the Register or not when the entire area was nomimated as a historical rural area.  We opted for the Register designation since it was less restrictive than the local zoning bylaws and there are Federal tax credits available for large renovations of commercial properties that are on the Register.  Since we had already expanded the house to the maximum allowed , we were happy to insure that the basic historical integrity of the house would be preserved for the future.  Unless someone wants to change more than 25% of the house, there is no review.  No one tells us what color to paint the house (and we have to paint it often due to the ravages of salt and sun) or what kind of windows to use.  We can do anything we want to the interior of the house as well.  We have been listed for 10 years without any problems or any contact with the Register.  The official plaque from the Park Service is on the front of the house and looks quite nice!  The designation is just one more feather in our cap...Our guests are impressed by the designation and often inquire about the history of the house and area.

Perhaps the strict historical reviews you are talking about are for homes with a local historical designation.  I have heard horror stories about local districts having control over paint color etc. but my own experience is that the NATIONAL Historic Register is not that restrictive. 

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 Wait, this is killing me I have to ask about it. "VERY HISTORIC" and you said 1954? More than half of the forum members here are older than that, no offense to those 'historic forum members' who I cherish, but am I getting this right?  

Keith I just read the website, it was finished in 1970. Okay I am not getting it. I get the METHODS of construction being unique, not the historic part.

Now I am feeling historic...haha

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Joey Bloggs wrote:

 Wait, this is killing me I have to ask about it. "VERY HISTORIC" and you said 1954? More than half of the forum members here are older than that, no offense to those 'historic forum members' who I cherish, but am I getting this right?  

Whew! I'm not historic.

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Joey Bloggs wrote:

 Wait, this is killing me I have to ask about it. "VERY HISTORIC" and you said 1954? More than half of the forum members here are older than that, no offense to those 'historic forum members' who I cherish, but am I getting this right?  

Keith I just read the website, it was finished in 1970. Okay I am not getting it. I get the METHODS of construction being unique, not the historic part.

Now I am feeling historic...haha

 

Any building that is at least 50 years old is considered "historic" 

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Any building that is at least 50 years old is considered "historic" 

You have to be kidding! Around here that is not even worth mentioning. Heck, my house is not considered anything here. Too many that date to the 1800s. The Shinn log house is a circa 1778, the #2 house was next door to me but torn down to build a post office that is now moved to a new building, and the #3 house is stone and dates to 1821 (now owned by direct descendant brothers who live in the State of Washington who bought it after staying here and I told them it was on the market).

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I went on a tour of homes in our city at the holidays last year and the mid-20th Century homes were all very unique with several definitive styles of architecture.  It was a interesting eye opener for me.   I'm glad that these properties are also being protected.  One of them was a house designed by an architect who favored the Frank Lloyd Wright style.  It was my favorite house!

This from someone who lives in a 1908 house and owns another one that was built in the 1860s. 

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gillumhouse wrote:

Any building that is at least 50 years old is considered "historic" 

You have to be kidding! Around here that is not even worth mentioning. Heck, my house is not considered anything here. Too many that date to the 1800s. The Shinn log house is a circa 1778, the #2 house was next door to me but torn down to build a post office that is now moved to a new building, and the #3 house is stone and dates to 1821 (now owned by direct descendant brothers who live in the State of Washington who bought it after staying here and I told them it was on the market).

I was amazed, had always heard the 100 yr mark to be considered, but here ya go: www.nps.gov/nr/national_register_fundamentals.htm   Makes the title loose its umph! 

Being listed does have it's drawbacks as stated, before you sign up make sure you have read it all.  Remember that one day you will want to sell this property and some may want to make changes the registry will not allow.  So think of this long and hard before finalizing.

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I put siding on my house and inserted replacement windows because the house had no insulation (it now has a little since they put an insulation over the old boards) and was very hard to heat - it is still a, shall we say, cool house - and the window frames had shrunk so much shreds of the wallpaper we were removing were found on the porch roof - and the windows were NOT open in January! Since the Historic Register was not going to be paying my heating bills, I decided being listed was not on my agenda. I have never chosen to stay at a B & B or not stay because of being a historic landmark.

Disclosure: My house is listed as a contributing factor to our Downtown being an Historic District (helps the City get grants) but that does not put restrictions on me. The Fire Dept torn down some older than mine about 5 years ago - long aftr the historic designation but this VFD would not give a hoot about historic anything.

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We have a total of 11 designated, and very diverse, historic districts in our city which have building/facade change restrictions which are enforced by our local board of historic and architectural review.  Very few of the homes within those districts are listed individually on the National Register.

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Joey your cracking me up again!!!

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Bob wrote:
Joey your cracking me up again!!!

Prehistoric ha ha or young whipper snapper tee hee?

Young and old, we're all in this together!

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