Chapter 2 The Art of Innkeeping
I have always been a day dreamer. It’s important to me to have time alone to think. One day I was watching the HGTV Dream Home Giveaway show. It was a beautiful water front home. They give away a new home every year if you haven’t seen the show. Afterwards I took my dog out for a walk around the block and I began to think how cool it would be to win that home. I have always really been into design and at one point in my life wanted to be an architect. But then it hit me, my daughter was going off to college in a year and what would a single guy do with such a large home in an area where I knew no one. While waiting for Morgan to finish her business the idea struck me. I could open a B&B. While I did not win the dream home the idea began to grow.
At the time I owned a Mail and Parcel Center that I had started from scratch. I had been doing it for quite some time and there was no personal growth. I had started it so that I could be close to home when my wife was ill and to be there for my daughter.
We lived in Glen Rock, the perfect family town but with my daughter heading off to college it was time for a change. I no longer belonged in Glen Rock. So I sold by business and took time off to go to culinary school. Although one doesn’t need to go to the French Culinary Institute to run a country inn it was one of those life enriching experiences.
Looking back on things this decision was not as random as it first appears. There was a time when I wanted to go to the Cornel School of Hotel and Restaurant Management. But instead I followed my father’s advice. “With a good liberal arts education followed by a MBA degree you could do anything” Maybe he was right. As a kid when others were reading biographies of famous ball players I was reading the Biography of Conrad Hilton.
On a trip to Antigua with my wife we went to this spaghetti restaurant up on a hill above our resort. The place was very simple. It had a floor of crusted stones. I don’t remember the food but the owner came over to our table and began talking with us. He had given up an investment banking career in Chicago to run this spaghetti restaurant. Calling it Italian would have been an overstatement. I thought what he was doing was so cool. How great would it be to live in a place that most people, at best, can only vacation? I also learned that it had no telephone when I asked him if he could call a taxi to take us back down the mountain
I have always enjoyed travel and had this thing about analyzing everyplace I stayed or dined. It was just fun. Small stuff stuck with me. I remember having the perfect espresso in Rome and the best ever apple tart in Paris. For the espresso it wasn’t just about taste, it was also about the noise real cups make on the counter, the crisp white jacket of the server, the heat of the sun, the history all around me .. Etc For years I searched for an apple tart as good as the one I remembered. Amazingly in Chef School I rediscovered it.
On a trip to Monterossa al Mare, I experienced getting off the train and sensing that this must be the happiest place on earth. The vibes were contagious. We passed by this café right on the beach with yellow umbrellas blowing in the wind. It drew me in. It was such as a special place I will always remember it. So I took this desire to create the perfect guest environment and bought an inn.
It is this quest for the perfect guest environment that I love best about the inn.
Want to know more? Read our book “Sugar Hill Inn Art of Innkeeping.” Available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.