If you work in foodservice and are thinking of opening a Bed and Breakfast (B&B), you are using your noodle wisely! Not only are B&B’s almost always privately owned, giving you plenty of freedom to showcase your wares in any way you fancy, but these special hospitality venues are climbing the popularity charts the world over. No longer viewed as merely cost-effective alternatives to hotel rooms, many B&Bs have taken on first-class status with a reputation for being both personal and posh. As a result, growing numbers of consumers are selecting B&Bs as their number one lodgings selection.
Moreover, in the post-corona era, a bed and breakfast may be the perfect way for flailing restaurant owners to start over, for entrepreneurs to get back on their feet, and for people to get a break from their daily routines. These small venues can enable guests to get away without the anxiety that may be caused by larger venues where there is less control over the clientele.
So, what do you need to know to start and run a successful B&B in 2021? To answer this go-to question, let’s journey backwards in time to follow the trajectory of B&B’s over the ages and how the original concept evolved into the hospitality and foodservice favorite it is today.
History of Bed and Breakfasts
The first rudimentary concept of a Bed and Breakfast dates back to the Middle Ages, when monasteries would provide a safe haven for weary travelers and drifters. During the 18th century, owners of private homes across Europe began renting out extra rooms to travelers and tourists, providing lodging and serving breakfast each morning. Variations of these establishments were known as pousados, shukukos, pensions, and minskukus.
The concept of B&B’s emerged in the United States with the early settlers, however the paradigm really took off during the Great Depression, when ‘boarding houses’ became an opportune way for homeowners to bring in much needed funds. Post-Depression and during the ’50s -’90s, ‘tourist homes’ began spreading across the country. Fast forward to the year 2000 and beyond, and many traditional bed & breakfasts are transitioning to more luxurious accommodations and creative enterprises, such as historic mansions with outlandish decor.
A typical Bed and Breakfast is comprised of ten or fewer bedrooms. Some share a common bathroom space; others have guestrooms with private facilities. Likewise, there may be a common dining room/kitchen, or breakfast may be privately served in individual guestrooms.
Most B&B’s include breakfast with the price of the room and strive to provide a different lodging experience than that of a motel, hotel, or inn. For a long time, the overarching allure associated with B&B’s was a ‘home away from home’ experience. Nowadays, the nature of the venues can range widely, with promotional features such as luxuriously arranged guestrooms, gourmet cooking, a one-of-a-kind historic ambiance, or topnotch hospitality services that include Internet/WiFi, private parking, refrigerator/freezers, hairdryers, cable TV, and more.
What it Takes to Manage a B&B
If you are not prepared to invest 99% of your time into your business, opening a B&B is not for you. Managing a bed and breakfast requires a level of dedication that goes well beyond the average 40-hour work week. As the owner, you are basically responsible for everything: Cleaning, cooking, housekeeping, researching, marketing, entertaining, decorating, troubleshooting, and perhaps most importantly, small talking with your guests. You may have to forgo hobbies, cut back on family time, and limit/nullify vacations. If you are willing, however, to accept these sacrifices to make your Bed and Breakfast dream come true, you are in for a most rewarding experience: combining your hosting, cooking and hospitality skills.
How to Start a Bed and Breakfast
The winning formula for starting a successful B&B business includes the following ingredients.
- Identify a suitable property: The size of the house chosen is critical. You want to be able to host multiple guests yet maintain a together atmosphere that is the hallmark of every great B&B. Towards this end, identify the nature of the venue you aim to provide (modern, historic) and the population you plan to cater to (families, couples, professionals).
- Furnishings/Décor: You will need sufficient finances for bedroom/ bathroom/kitchen furniture and appliances, linens, towels, and cleaning supplies. Be sure to also budget in the cost of accessories such as rugs, curtains, fresh coats of paint, wall hangings, plants, lighting fixtures, outdoor furniture, knickknacks, and more.
- Create a Winning Morning Menu: At the end of the day, what your B&B serves for breakfast should be one of the most memorable and alluring aspects of your offerings. While classic morning menu items are a must (coffee, tea, OJ, eggs, toast, cheese, rolls, breads, jams, and spreads), this is one area where you can separate yourself from the pack and entice customers to choose your eatery over the competition. A signature dish created by your chef can do the trick, as can unbeatable prices, specializing in a particular type of cuisine, or developing a reputation for the best cinnamon buns, scrambled eggs, or early bird coffee…..
- Determine the Size of Your Staff: How many guests are you planning to host and how many staff members will it take to cater to their needs? You will score mega brownie points with customers for an efficiently run business with topnotch customer service, giving them oodles of reasons to come back time and again.
- Market, Market, Market: Don’t hold back in spreading the good word about your B&B. Maintain a compelling, up-to-date website, establish a strong social media presence, advertise tastefully but shamelessly, and don’t forget the everlasting power of good, old-fashioned word of mouth.
More B&B Tips
As the soon-to-be proud owner of a bed and breakfast, additional considerations include:
- Will the ‘biz be seasonal or year-round?
- Will you sleep on or off the premises?
- Are you prepared to be responsible for maintenance, repairs, and renovations?
- How updated are your people skills? Remember, some guests will be a pleasure to serve while others may pester you, confound you, be rude to you, and give you a run for your money.
- Will you be serving alcoholic beverages? If so, you need a liquor license that takes time to obtain, so start the application process pronto so you can get those mimosas ready!
- Is your menu equipped to cater to special dietary needs? Nowadays, it is almost expected that foodservices offer some vegetarian/vegan dishes, as well as menu selections that accommodate customers who have food allergies or are lactose intolerant, gluten intolerant, diabetic, or adhere to a low-sodium, low-fat, or plant-based diet.
Bed & Breakfast Recipes
From decadent hot oatmeal to mouthwatering cheese omelets, pancakes, waffles, French toast, croissants, and fresh fruit, to melted Swiss cheese atop spinach and buttered mushrooms sautéed with fresh thyme, you are well on your way to formulating the breakfast menu that will help with the ultimate success of your B & B.
Apple Maple Baked Oatmeal
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups milk OR nut-based alternative
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 6 cups rolled oats
- 2 apples, diced
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- Pre-heat oven to 350°
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat eggs until frothy
- Add remaining ingredients, stir to combine
- Pour batter into a 9×13 baking dish
- Optional: Garnish with sliced apples before baking
- Place in oven for 40-45 minutes
- Bon Appétit!
The Last Word
Opening a B&B is quite an undertaking. However, if you have often thought of it and have the means to propel your dream forward, post-corona is an opportune time to get the wheels of your dream rolling. The time is ripe for entrepreneurs of all types to emerge from the economic ruins of corona to make their dreams come true and a B&B just may fit into the model of our new normal lifestyle.