[Interview by Mallory Peterson]
Mike Rohde and Pat Daniels at the William Miller House in Richmond, Virginia run a beautiful bed and breakfast, which they want to let everyone experience. From delicious food to making your trip an exciting adventure and retreat from daily life, a stay at the William Miller House sounds like just what the doctor ordered. I had the opportunity to interview Mike and ask him a few questions about how he got into the innkeeping business and what works in the industry as well as what does not.
We aren’t off in the country; we are in the middle of it all. A trip to our bed and breakfast will be relaxing but it will also be an active, vibrant experience…
Q: What made you decide to turn the house into a bed and breakfast?
A: When we were both working in the corporate world we traveled a lot and we love to stay in bed and breakfasts. We decided we wanted to retire early and take what we had learned from our years of experience and apply it to something new.
Q: What’s unique about your inn?
A: It’s a “walking inn,” once you check in you don’t have to use a car to get around. We are located where there is easy access to public transportation or you can walk to most any of the sites. There are over 25 different restaurants and the capital within walking distance. It is a great way to experience the city and relax without driving all over to see and do things.
Q: What is your signature breakfast?
A: We like to call our breakfast a “full hearty gourmet breakfast.” No one will walk away from this meal hungry. We serve breakfast on our collection of platters we have gathered in our world travels. There are two breakfasts that could be considered signature, which are the Monet French toast and poached eggs over grit cakes with a chipotle cream sauce.
Q: What saying or motto do you absolutely live by?
A: We like to call ourselves “your home away from home.” The real tagline we use most often is “Come back to the middle of it all” since we are located in the city. But we really want our guests to feel when they come here they’re at home or an extension of their home. However, when they come here they can really take advantage of all that there is to do and also release themselves from the daily grind. We aren’t off in the country; we are in the middle of it all. A trip to our bed and breakfast will be relaxing but it will also be an active, vibrant experience, no listening to crickets, there’s a lot to take advantage of here.
Q: What would you say is the best thing you’ve done for your business?
A: Really concentrating on the fact that “breakfast” is half of our name. I spend a lot of time researching recipes and making sure we deliver a high quality breakfast. We want our guests to try something new. I am the chef and I love to incorporate foods and styles from around the world. France has become a home away from home for us and whenever we are there I am always looking for new ingredients and new recipes. I like to find a great recipe, not even necessarily a breakfast item, and turn it into a gourmet breakfast dish.
Q: What would you do over if you had a time machine?
A: Currently we only have two rooms but I wish I could go back to when we were renovating for the inn and add on two more rooms. When we did the renovations we did an addition onto the house that is a single story and we could have easily put a second story on top of that for the additional rooms. At the time the bed and breakfast was just a thought, we didn’t really know we would be this successful. When you have a quality product people recognize that. We have been on and off the number one bed and breakfast on Trip Advisor for our area and we have a lot of returning guests. I just wish we were able to share our bed and breakfast with more people.
Q: What did you do before you started your own business?
A: We both worked in the corporate telecommunications industry for 30 years. We traveled a lot in the U.S. and the northeast New England area became one of our favorite spots to visit. We loved the quaint hometown feel.
Q: What recent challenge have you overcome?
A: There were a lot of challenges when we first opened. We had to apply for special use permits since the city of Richmond was a little old world when it came to bed and breakfasts. We were the second one in the city and it had been ten years since the first one opened. No one had the knowledge of what a bed and breakfast is and should be we had to do a lot of educating. We pioneered the process and now there are six more bed and breakfasts in the city.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time when you’re not at work?
A: I enjoy cooking a lot outside of work as well. I also consider myself quite the computer geek. I run several websites for local businesses and I also like to program and do web development.
Did you know?
The William Miller House in Richmond, Virginia is an urban inn located within city limits. A stone and marble cutter from New Jersey named William Miller built the house in 1869. Pat Daniels and Mike Rohde bought the house in 1994 and lived there until 2000 when they opened the William Miller House as a bed and breakfast.