Tuesday, December 22, 2009

There here! Free range chicken eggs from Millsap Farms!


Now don’t everyone rush out to Millsap farms and request eggs. Eggs are a bi-product of one of the many things they do at Millsap Farms (like fresh, free range chickens!), and they don’t have many in the winter. As the days get longer (starting this week! Yea!) chickens will start producing more eggs, and by summer, they are at their peak of production. But they have enough for us, the Discovery Center (what do they do with fresh eggs?) and a few downtown restaurants, so at the moment, their production is pretty well taken up. These eggs are beautiful, large, and full of goodness. They are as local as you can get, with Millsap Farms just outside of Springfield’s northern city limits. They are a CSA – Community Supported Agriculture, where you purchase a share of the harvest and pick it up weekly as it becomes ripe. According to their website (linked below) this starts in April, as the lettuce, cooking greens, peas, turnips, beets, radishes and onions are ready, and moves into summer and fall vegetables and fruits mature. Makes me hungry to think about it!
More local product to come, but starting today, we have free range eggs at the Walnut Street Inn!

Check them out at: http://www.millsapfarms.com/index.html


Gary at Walnut Street Inn
900 E Walnut Street
Springfield, MO 65806
Info: 417-864-6346
Reservations: 800-593-6346

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Holiday peace falls on the neighborhood...


For years we closed the Inn for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Employees wanted off, Cat was a young child and we wanted to share these special days with our family, both in Springfield and in Thayer, MO, where I’m from. So we locked the doors and turned away the weary traveler who might call. Then some of our “regulars” (you know who you are!) asked if they could stay in the Carriage House or Cottage Inn, without breakfast, just to keep from having to sleep on Grandma’s couch during the holidays. That sounded fair, and a way for us to have a little income, so we came up with the plan that has served us well for the last few years. Wanna come during Thanksgiving or Christmas? Come on! The four rooms in the Carriage House and the two rooms in the Cottage Inn are offered at a 40% discount, since we let the staff go home for the holidays, and we don’t serve breakfast or freshen your rooms on those days. I am still on the property, and often my family, friends or employees will have informal gatherings in the Main House during that time, so this policy has served us and our guests well. This year Cat, my daughter, is having a party in the Main House parlors on December 23rd, and on Christmas Day, my friend Kim is having a family gathering here. I love sharing the old house with friends and family. The house seems to appreciate it as well.

An added benefit that I didn’t see coming is the peace of those holiday mornings at the Walnut Street Inn. Guests come and go, according to their family plans, with the relaxed demeanor earned by being the “out of town” family that is not responsible for “the meal” or the entertainment. My enviable task is to fill the bird feeder, keep the coffee hot, the newspapers ready, and conversation interesting as they wait for a spouse to dress, or the hour for the gathering to come. Neighbors and friends stop by on their way to the grocery store, or while just out stretching their legs, looking to share the solitude and peace of the quiet December morning. The neighborhood slows to a crawl with all the students gone, traffic at a minimum, and businesses around us closed. A holiday peace falls on the neighborhood, and all is well.

I can’t help thinking that it must be very similar to how this neighborhood was in 1894, when the Inn was built. The fireplaces in these old Queen Annes would have filled the streets with the haze of the sweet smell of oak. Horse drawn carriages would meander by. Smiles, waves, and calls of “Merry Christmas!” would fill the air, just like now; a holiday peace is in the air.

Here is hoping that your holiday mornings are as peaceful as ours. This will be a better year for all of us, and it can start now, this Christmas week. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all your support and friendship. We wish you a happy and joyous holiday and a wonderful new year.

Gary at Walnut Street Inn
900 E Walnut Street
Springfield, MO 65806
Info: 417-864-6346
Reservations: 800-593-6346

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sunday night at the Inn



Sunday night at the Inn is unlike any other night. It is a transition night, and as close to an ending point as we ever get in the innkeeping business. The weekend romance and pleasure guests are all headed back to work. The adrenaline of two busy nights drains out of my system, and I relax.
By 4 pm, all the staff is gone, and it is just me for the evening. The house is quiet. Even the squirrels in the back yard calm down. The few remaining guests, usually road warriors with their minds already on tomorrow’s appointments, filter in, one at a time, leaving me time to do other chores; bake cookies, work in the yard, repair a toilet, fix a sink…
But most Sunday nights, it becomes my night to sit on the back porch and think -- When is this recession going to end? Why is it causing my business to slow down? Why haven’t the specials and promotions I’ve put in place brought in more business? Why aren’t people traveling? When will they again? How are other B&B’s in the area doing? What about the hotels? Am I giving my employees enough hours to keep them happy? Why does the paint keep peeling off the porch? Is that an ambulance or a fire truck? Speaking of fire trucks, who is it who did the voice of Cruella De Ville in 101 Dalmations? Glen Close? Meryl Streep? Are they the same person? Why do I have to get up in the middle of the night to pee?
You know, important stuff like that…It needs to be thought. Sunday nights, I can think it.
Sometimes the absence of adrenaline and the quietness of the evening get to me, and I get a bit down. Innkeeping is a calling, a true service industry. Giving good hospitality, and not resenting it, is easy to do 20 times, but how about 200 times a month? Can you put on that “innkeeper personality” willingly, seven days a week? When the job is done right, it is all about the guest, and never about you. And it is never-ending. Oh, there is an end to the individual guest experience, but to the Innkeeper, no matter how you cut it, the job is never done. You are getting ready to check someone in, checking someone in, helping them during their stay, checking someone out, cleaning up afterward, then getting ready to check someone else in. The job just rolls on and on, like a river.
Running an inn has also been paralleled to running a dairy farm (sorry guests!) The cows must be milked in the morning, taken care of during the day, and milked in the evening, every day, 365 days a year. The milk cow never goes on vacation, never takes the afternoon off. Neither does the dairy farmer. Neither does the innkeeper. I think that is why many innkeepers burn out after a few years. It is not the workload, for many jobs are more onerous than innkeeping; it is the never-ending responsibility for someone else’s contentment. Always being “on.” Always wearing your innkeeper persona, at the inn, at the grocery store, at the ball game, always.
So if you are thinking of becoming an Innkeeper, come on in! The water's fine! There are many joys and rewards to opening your home to guests. But there is a cost too. And to be good at it, you have to lay “self” aside, and reap your contentment from the seeds of service sown for others.

Gary at Walnut Street Inn
900 E Walnut Street
Springfield, MO 65806
Info: 417-864-6346
Reservations: 800-593-6346

The Walnut Street Inn

The Walnut Street Inn
the Inn is made up of three 100+ year old buildings.

Followers