Where do YOU eat?

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My wife and are hoping to get into a small B&B soon, so this discussion came up.

Where do you eat when you're having dinner?

The dining space is public, so what's the balance or trade off between eating in the dining room and making it feel homey, or not making guests feel like they are interrupting dinner?

If/when the pandemic is mostly under control we might occasionally invite guests to join us for dinner (assuming the food license laws allow it, still checking into all that).
 

Morticia

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If there is any other space where you can be private, pick that space!

As a guest I’d feel really awkward walking in on the innkeeper having dinner, or any other meal. I think you’ll get a lot of wise alecks asking what’s for dinner with the implication they want to join you.

Lots of innkeepers (not us) won’t even cook things they love because of the smell wafting through the inn.

We’ve stayed at several places where all the public spaces were also the innkeepers’ private space. It’s awkward. You come in from dinner and there are the innkeepers watching TV in their living room, which is also the space you were going to sit in to have a glass of wine and put your feet up.

Try to have your own, truly, private space. You really need a place where you can argue and just be yourselves.

To answer the question you asked: we have a separate apartment with a full kitchen, living room, dining room, several bedrooms.
 

gillumhouse

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When Himself was still here, he ate in his studio and I ate - still do - in my office IF there are guests in-house. My friends check to see if I have guests before planning us having dinner. I can also set up a table for us in the former studio. Your OWN space - and more than just a bedroom - is vital to sanity. As small as my house id (B & B-wise), I have 2 rooms, a bathroom, and my office, all on one side of the house. Guests never have to enter my side of the house unless invited (RARE) into the office with entry from the porch.
 

Generic

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Before we had a private space, we ate in the public space. Never have they asked to join. They have made a few jokes about it. Asked what we cooked. Remarked about how good it smelled. But we have had our own apartment for the last few years.
 

GoodScout

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With us, it varies a great deal.
1) When we're empty, we'll usually eat in the dining room or dine out.
2) With guests, more often than not we'll eat in our kitchen, which can be closed off from the common areas with a Dutch door, but gives guests the ability to knock if they need something.
3) If we have guests we feel are 100% self-reliant, or we just want to avoid them, we'll traipse up to our 3rd-floor bedroom apartment, where we have a small table where we can eat.
4) If we have family members here, we eat in the dining room regardless of whether we have guests or not.
 

TheBeachHouse

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We have an apartment on the back of the inn. One room is kitchen, small dining table. Loveseat, tv and a huge desk for office work. Other rooms are bedroom, media room/library and kids room until he moved out. It’s now guest room/nap room/ workout room.

Plan to have your own space that can be locked away from the inn. I couldn’t live without my privacy.
 

alias annie

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We have a sitting room, bedroom and bath for our quarters and share the kitchen and laundry with the business. We eat in our sitting room mostly
 
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Thanks for the replies. The nice thing about the inn we're trying to buy is that it does have separate owners' quarters (a basement with it's own outside entrance and a bedroom, office and full bath on the main floor).

We'll probably eat in the 'office' when there are guests around to avoid that awkward interaction as well. We are looking into whether the food service laws will allow us to provide dinner for special occasions (and if we can add a nominal charge for it).

Thanks again.
 

Morticia

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@Worldtraveller Nominal is the wrong word. You want to be paid for the service you’re providing. It’s a LOT of work to do two meals, plus everything else. Don’t sell yourself short. If you can do an additional meal, be sure you set restrictions on the time you’re willing to cook and serve. You don’t want to be in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner at 10 pm and then back in the kitchen at 6 am for breakfast. (Or, maybe you do and that’s just the introvert in me talking!)
 

GoodScout

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When we bought our place, our business plan including us starting to offer dinner service shortly after taking over.
Within two weeks of just doing breakfasts and occasional dinners for bike groups, we realized adding a dinner restaurant to our list of duties would burn us out instantly.
 

Tom

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It’s a LOT of work to do two meals, plus everything else. Don’t sell yourself short.
Everything Mort says is dead on. It's a lot of work ... because you are going to pretty it up, try to meet expectations, and because you are backing out a restaurant meal of maybe lesser quality, but higher price.
We have a formal cooking school, with a 2-hour class and a full course dinner afterwards, for $50 per person and a 5 person minimum (after Covid??).
But we do offer registered guest an impromptu class, $30 per person, and they just sit, sip wine, and we cook a family favorite (which is damn good as it goes, DW is an accomplished chef).
We have fun, they have a good meal, but, as with everything in this business, underpricing is the road to misery. If it's too cheap, people will think it's not worth much.
 

gillumhouse

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I found out early on that underpricing - trying to be nice - disappoints. I was, at the time giving goblets a splits of sparkling cider to guests on arrival. A guest wanted to buy more of the goblets. (I paid 50 cents each at the time at the glass factory). I think I told her $15.0 each. She was disappointed. I think she would have been happier if I had said $10 each. THAT would have made them something very special.

In 1999, I was charging $25 per person for the dinners I did - could have fed 2 people for that at the local restaurant. I had it bundled into a package and no one thought the package was too expensive. Price high and you will only get people who appreciate the effort, but be prepared to offer generous quantity and EXCELLENT quality.
 

2cat_lady

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We offer a very limited menu 6 days a week because the dining options are slim in our area. It's limited but features our local seafood and moose - very easy to put together. They can eat within a two-hour slot. No exceptions ( I tell them if they don't want Pop Tarts and Frosted Flakes for breakfast, I need to get to bed at a decent hour). They can bring their own booze (we don't have a license to sell). It's a great add on and it really adds to the bottom line for us. CFAs (Come From Away) love the opportunity to try something different and locals are just happy with a home cooked meal. Sometimes, it even is a decision maker in the off season because people don't want to go back out in the cold to get a meal.
 

myschae

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We offer a very limited menu 6 days a week because the dining options are slim in our area. It's limited but features our local seafood and moose - very easy to put together. They can eat within a two-hour slot. No exceptions ( I tell them if they don't want Pop Tarts and Frosted Flakes for breakfast, I need to get to bed at a decent hour). They can bring their own booze (we don't have a license to sell). It's a great add on and it really adds to the bottom line for us. CFAs (Come From Away) love the opportunity to try something different and locals are just happy with a home cooked meal. Sometimes, it even is a decision maker in the off season because people don't want to go back out in the cold to get a meal.
I ... I just have to ask: what recipe do you have that calls for seafood and moose? They seem like pretty different flavor profiles to me and I'm intrigued.
 

myschae

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I think the pricing and the timing is key. We are currently in the process of purchasing an Inn (Everybody, please send positive vibes that we get the financing, our business plan is hella strong.) and I'd like to incorporate dinners for the off season, when many things are closed or on days where the weather is particularly nasty. We can build in the 'comforts of home' including not having to go out when it's cats and dogs outside to get a hot, delicious meal.

Nothing particularly gorment (I'm more of a good cook than a real chef) but I make a lot of from real-ingredients-scratch 'home cookin' style food: lasagna, casseroles, stews, goulash, fresh local fish catch of the day, type food and my recipes tend to leave a lot of leftovers.

What's your pricing scheme? If a lasagna makes, say 8 portions, would you try to cover the cost of ingredients and time in say 4 portions sold or something like that? Or is it more a matter of looking around to see what everyone else charges for an average dinner and then paying attention to portion sizes?

I don't expect this to be a major money maker for us since I wouldn't do the offerings during season as there are plenty of great local places for the guests to visit. Besides, if no one wants to buy dinner from us, we're happy to eat leftovers.
 

gillumhouse

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Back when I did dinners as part of an Inn-to-Inn Package, I did manicotti (as one guest told someone the next day - Manicotti logs). It impressed the heck out of people that I made my own pasta - quite easy actually. I would make 16 to 20 manicotti when I made it - vac-sealing 2 to a package and freezing. When needed, I would thaw, add the spaghetti sauce made by a local company (learned it was as good or better and easier than mine) and baked it. Made my homemade French bread to serve with a huge salad (only one couple emptied that bowl), then brought out the plated dinner - one manicotti "log" with a flower taking up the rest of the plate - sprig of rosemary from my yard with green pepper sliver slices for leaves, center slice of Roma tomato (the flower), and tied together with a half of black olive at the base. Dessert was a couple scoops of ice cream. The bread recipe made 2 loaves - breakfast the next morning was bread pudding. I priced the dinner - hidden in package price - as $25 per plate. A dinner at a restaurant in town would be $25 for both at that time.

Making the manicotti in numbers spread the cost nicely.
 

Morticia

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I think the pricing and the timing is key. We are currently in the process of purchasing an Inn (Everybody, please send positive vibes that we get the financing, our business plan is hella strong.) and I'd like to incorporate dinners for the off season, when many things are closed or on days where the weather is particularly nasty. We can build in the 'comforts of home' including not having to go out when it's cats and dogs outside to get a hot, delicious meal.

Nothing particularly gorment (I'm more of a good cook than a real chef) but I make a lot of from real-ingredients-scratch 'home cookin' style food: lasagna, casseroles, stews, goulash, fresh local fish catch of the day, type food and my recipes tend to leave a lot of leftovers.

What's your pricing scheme? If a lasagna makes, say 8 portions, would you try to cover the cost of ingredients and time in say 4 portions sold or something like that? Or is it more a matter of looking around to see what everyone else charges for an average dinner and then paying attention to portion sizes?

I don't expect this to be a major money maker for us since I wouldn't do the offerings during season as there are plenty of great local places for the guests to visit. Besides, if no one wants to buy dinner from us, we're happy to eat leftovers.
We can’t do dinners but I would have that lasagna covered by the first two people who buy it. No sense in waiting for four people to want to eat to make your money back.
 

2cat_lady

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I ... I just have to ask: what recipe do you have that calls for seafood and moose? They seem like pretty different flavor profiles to me and I'm intrigued.
Features moose and seafood -- not at the same time ( unless you order a moose burger with a chaser of cod bites)
 
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