“I think it is the personal treatment. They feel so pampered,” said Betty Fain, innkeeper at the Inn at Iris Meadows in Waynesville.
Breakfast, not surprisingly, is a critical ingredient in the bed and breakfast model — a good home-cooked breakfast. Sweets and cookies lying around and a fridge stocked with drinks and snacks are icing on the cake.
The North Carolina Bed and Breakfasts and Inns Association recently released a cookbook profiling recipes, particularly signature breakfast meals, from more than 50 bed and breakfasts in the state.
Five bed and breakfasts in Waynesville were featured in the cookbook: Andon-Reid Inn, Brookside Mountainside Mist Inn, Herren House, Inn at Iris Meadows and The Yellow House. Waynesville has more B&Bs featured in the book than almost any other locale.
Time at bed and breakfasts revolve around food and drink. As soon as guests arrive, they are ushered around the house and encouraged to grab treats.
“You always want to make it feel like they are at their home,” said Shawn Bresnahan, innkeeper at The Yellow House, adding that guests will often come downstairs in their robes for tea or a snack. “A hotel is just so antiseptic, or at least you hope it’s antiseptic.”
Some bed and breakfasts have small, stocked refrigerators in each room, and others have a public kitchen for all to share.
When rising for the morning, the temporary residents gather around a single table to eat breakfast and talk about their plans for the day, often swapping advice for where to visit.
“The guests are the best tour directors for other guests,” Bresnahan said, estimating that 10 or 12 people visited Cataloochee Valley to see the elk recently after another guest gave it good reviews.
To the guests, everything seems relaxed and flows easily.
But, when George and Betty Fain first became innkeepers, Betty Fain joked that they were like the three stooges milling around the kitchen before breakfast. She recalled one morning when she set eggs by the stove. All the eggs slowly rolled off the counter and splattered across the floor.
Now, however, they have found a rhythm.
The Inn at Iris Meadows grows some of its own ingredients — tomatoes, chives, basil and other herbs — in a small garden on their property and uses them in their kitchen.
“We use all of our own in the summer months,” Betty Fain said.
After a full day of activities, some customers return to the inns for a nap or to relax before going out to dinner. During that time, snacks are a must. And, once everyone returns to the bed and breakfast for the night, guests often sit in a common living room space with others to once again talk about their days and nurse some port wine.
“They feel like they are visiting friends,” Bresnahan said.
The Yellow House has three recipes in the bed and breakfast cookbook. There is a mixture of recipes brought to the inn by Bresnahan and those that were favorites of former innkeepers.
“It’s kind of a conglomeration,” Bresnahan said.
For Bresnahan, it was simple to pick which recipe to display as its signature dish for the authors.
“It’s usually one that the guests have loved over the years,” Bresnahan said.
Although its “Outrageous French Toast” was listed with strawberries in the cookbook, the recipe can be tweaked to include other fruits. This time of year, it is filled with apples.
“It’s really easy to make. It’s like a soufflé that doesn’t fall on you,” Bresnahan said.
The Inn at Iris Meadows has five recipes in the cookbook — its signature dish is the “Mountain Mornings Granola Parfait” with the bed and breakfast’s own granola mixture.
“We have had people who never liked granola,” but request it every time they stay, Betty Fain said.
One of its other breakfast meals included is a banana bread recipe.
Betty Fain confessed that one of the recipes is from an old Southern Living cookbook and chuckled when saying she once served the favorite dish to a former editor of Southern Living who stayed at the inn.