One day I woke up and I was an innkeeper: 2nd in a series
the making of an Innkeeper: the continuing saga
Yes, I shopped nearly every day for an entire year. And since then, I've never been able to go shopping in stores again. I do all my shopping on-line, except for what I buy at the grocery or drug store. Honestly!
And risk-taker that I am, I spent every cent I had saved for years, my annuity, and my severance pay from the Chicago School system. I was never good with money. I always had the attitude that it was there to spend and I needed everything: beds, furniture, carpets, pictures, etc etc. My empty credit cards flashed before my eyes. What was I thinking??
I did happen to make a few smart moves too. I found a mentor to point me in the right direction and answer the many questions I had, I joined an organization of local innkeepers, and I bought a computer and became internet savvy.
Since I had spent everything I had, I knew I had to do my own advertising. So, I took a couple of on line tutorials, learned how to write HTML code, and constructed my own website. I put an ad in the phone book, and added myself to several free websites, recipe books, and travel guides. I also registered with the Louisville visitors Bureau.
At this point, I was ready to open. I was encouraged to open by February, when the Farm Machinery Show was due in town. I had no idea that Louisville was 5th in the united states for conferences or that I had picked a prime location for visitors. Dumb luck again. But, being a fast learner, I started catching on to the "program". And, with the help of the Louisville Bed and Breakfast Association (LBBA), the group I had joined, I managed to fill up for the Farm Machinery Show.
my bed and breakfast
first breakfast in the B&B jitters
Obviously, since I had spent every cent I had, I needed revenue badly. So I decided to rent all five rooms and sleep on a roll-away in the back hallway, by the kitchen. Not too comfortable, but I fell asleep happy, thinking about all the money I was making.
Next day, I woke up a nervous wreck. My first breakfast would be for 12 people. I'd never worked in a restaurant or hotel, so my service skills were minimal. I was a good cook, but wasn't used to making breakfast for this many people and I had been cooking for only one person for years.
I decided to serve breakfast buffet style, a mistake that I'll explain later. The menu was to be: a sausage ring, scrambled eggs, french toast, fruit cup, muffiins, toast, orange juice, coffee or tea. This was another mistake, which I will explain later.
the greasy floor caper
I started breakfast. The sausage ring was in the oven. When it finished baking, I took it out and unmolded it onto a glass cake plate. It looked terrible...all grey and unappetizing. It need to be browned, so I popped it back in the oven.
By that time the dining room was filled and everyone had their orange juice and coffee. I started bringing out the food to set on the buffet table. When I went back into the kitchen, I heard a sudden loud noise in the oven. I opened the door to find the glass cake plate had exploded (of course, silly me) and grease and smoke were every where.
The grease oozed out all over the floor and the smoke set off the fire alarm. I ran around the work table to turn off the oven and slid halway across the length of the kitchen floor. I grabbed onto the sink to keep from falling, straightened myself up, wiped off my feet and went to turn off the screeching smoke alarm.
I first checked in the dining room to see how the guests were doing. They were talking and laughing, completely oblivious to the kitchen scene. Music was playing softly in the background, and there was no hint of smoke or greasy food smells. It was a lovely picture. The dining room was closed off to the back of the house, so you couldn't hear the howling smoke alarm. I left the dining room, got a ladder, climbed up to just under the 12 foot ceiling and yanked out the batteries.
All this time my guests were waiting for their breakfast. Back in the smoky, greasy kitchen, I cleaned up the floor and opened the doors and windows. Of course, I couldn't serve the sausage ring, so I grabbed some ham from the frig, and proceded to get the rest of the food plated. It was then, that I noticed something dripping down from the ceiling, just missing the fruit bowl.
I looked up and was horrified to see water draining from the overhead chandelier/fan. My eyes traced the water across the ceiling, which was now bulging and ready to burst, to where there was a bathroom overhead on the second floor. Oh no! a broken pipe. "Well, what'd you expect in an old 1882 historic home, who knows what's underneath that paint!"
Well, I finally got the food to the guests. They thought everything wonderful. They had absolutely no inkling of the chaos that had been going on all around them.. I got a plummer to fix the leak, a maintenance man to help clean up, replace the batteries in the smoke detector, and patch & repaint the ceiling. I collapsed into a comfortable wingbacked chair and wondered ..."Is this what it's going to be like?"
3rd in a series of Innkeeper stories: The Naked Irish Farmer