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Delaware Business Owner Spotlight


Delaware Business Owner Spotlight of the MonthName: Amy Eschenbrenner

Company:
 Blue Hen Bed and Breakfast
Title: Proprietor
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December 2014 Feature...

The Interview

 

Tell us how it all started. Why? What’s the story?

I earned my bachelor degree in Theatre from the University of Delaware and studied for one semester in London, England. I paid my own way through college by working in restaurants where I learned the hospitality trade. I also worked in a genuine English pub during my stay in London and discovered my love for Bed and Breakfasts while traveling the Celtic and European country sides.  I met my husband, Don in 2003 and we spent weekends at b and b's in Cape May where we fell in love with the idea of having one of our own but thought it would be impossible.  In 2007, Don saw a circa 1692 farmhouse for sale in Newark and we felt it would be perfect to convert into a b and b.  We took out my 401K from my job of 10 years for the deposit in 2008 and then lost that job when the market tanked.  Working part time jobs until the fall of 2013, we decided that I need to work at marketing and running the b and b to make this my full time job. 

Don also worked in restaurants as a cook and bartender so we were able to incorporate our experience into running the business. Strong family ties to farming with Quaker and Pennsylvania Dutch roots made my transformation to an Inn Keeper quite comfortable.  Along with gardening, I enjoy baking and canning my own foods. In addition to Don being a great cook, he's also a certified Bob Ross art instructor and offers art lessons here.  Our love of history, antiques, people and animals makes sharing our 322 year old home, 2 dogs Bailey and Brandy and cat Monty with the rest of the world seem appropriate and natural.  We're going into our fifth and best year yet but want to grow to have heads in beds more often than not.

 

What is your biggest success so far?

Winning the 2014 Woman of the Year award from the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce and 2014 Best Home Based Business for the Delaware Small Business Chamber.  We also won the 2014 Most Romantic Escape as well as Best Historic Place for the Northern Delaware Happenings as well as second place for Best Wedding Venue for the Northern Delaware Happenings.  We were a finalist for the News Journal Reader's Choice Award for Best Wedding Venue.


What is the biggest challenge in your industry? What are you doing to deal with that?

Many folks prefer to stay in a familiar big chain hotel whether it's for the points or they know what to expect.   We're not really in competition with other hotels since we are pet friendly and more historic.  We offer more than the hotels by being pet friendly, home made and baked food, lovely venue for everything from intimate weddings and showers, team building art lessons and meetings and just a quiet and or romantic getaway.

 

What advice would you give to a business owner starting out in your industry that you wish you would have known going in?

Be ready to work hard, know that unexpected expenses will happen and there will be many lean times.  We've been so fortunate with guest reviews on TripAdvisor and Facebook - that means you have to be consistent in your offerings - clean and comfortable rooms, superior service and great food.  Although we find it romantic, fun and rewarding, there's much to do be a little bed and breakfast that could!

 

What don't most people realize about you or your company?

We offer 10% off for guests who are here for a funeral, memorial service or visit to those in the hospital and nursing homes.  We have gift certificates.  We love to surprise guests for a birthday, anniversary, etc. by decorating for the event and making their favorite food. We are the official site for the annual Paws For People Easter Bone Hunt!

 

 

Thanks Amy!

 

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