Personal Stories of America at Work
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Cindy Reinhart makes a dream job work on the California Coast
My husband, Charles, and I recently celebrated running our own bed and breakfast, the Joshua Grindle Inn, in Mendocino, California, for just over 10 years.
Running a B&B is hard work. The average tenure of an innkeeper tends to be about five years. After five years they burn out and move on because they hadn’t realized that it is very hard work. We are a little different because we didn’t flee other careers like most people. We come from the hotel and restaurant industry. But we were burnt out from constantly relocating and long hours, so we jumped to make this work, but financially it wasn’t-and isn’t-easy.
We were in escrow during the dot.com bust. Two weeks after we closed escrow, 9/11 happened. Bomb threats to blow up the Golden Gate Bridge caused San Francisco to lose many of its conventions and much of its tourism. San Francisco is our major feeder market so that had a huge impact on our business. Mendocino didn’t start to come back as a tourist destination until 2007 and 2008. Then, boom, the market crash that fall killed us. So at our ten-year marker, we celebrated our endurance and determination, though not our financial success. We are very fortunate to have such a strong number of returning guests-they kept us going.
Tea and cookies in the parlor
A typical day for us starts with cooking and serving breakfast. Breakfast is our social time with our guests. All day, we take reservations, check guests in and out, and give tours of the property. The only thing we don’t do is clean the rooms. (We have a cleaning staff for that.) We help guests with dinner recommendations or other activities. We basically make reservations all day, so there’s never really any down time.
Our daughter was four when we bought the inn. For the first four years of her life, when I was working for a big hotel, I felt like I really didn’t know her. I was working all the time. When you’re working in the hotel industry for somebody else, you don’t have the luxury of just going and doing whatever you want, whenever you want.
Now, even though we have to take care of guests, we’re able to mold it around our life. Our daughter is 15 now and has grown up at the inn. At times she helps with reservations or putting stuff into the computer. She is learning a good work ethic.
Even though I’m shy, I like interaction with people. Having my own B&B is somewhat like home where I’m on my own turf and in my own element. I meet a lot of different people and enjoy creating new relationships.
Putting down roots
I started in the hotel industry working in my parents’ 30-room Wisconsin Dells motel when I was in high school. I also waited tables in the evening at the restaurant next door to our motel.
I worked for both a restaurant “fine dining” company and a large hotel chain. As a young, single employee, I was sent wherever the company needed someone. I moved all over, from Milwaukee to Detroit, then on to Ohio, to both Columbus and Cleveland. When I went back to the hotel industry. I was relocated to New Orleans, San Antonio, and Santa Fe, and then finally to Mendocino, where we have stayed.
I hired Charles, now my husband and partner, as my restaurant manager back when I worked in Texas. The company we worked for was running three properties here in Mendocino. Charles and I transferred up here from Santa Fe. After living here for five years we realized this was the place we wanted to stay for awhile. Our daughter was born here, and the wanderlust ended.
Our inn has a great reputation and it started with the founding couple that converted it to an inn. Charles and I are really happy with how we are regarded and reviewed by our guests. I’m very proud of what we do.
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The Working Chronicles
The Working Chronicles captures an intimate look at work in 21st century America through candid interviews with people from all walks of life and all corners of the country.
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