Kevin and Trish Robinson searched for just that right place. They traveled from Maine, to Virginia, to Newport in 2009, looking for a place, not just to settle, but to call home. After many months of searching, including a trip to Falmouth, they found that home, and purchased the former Mostly Hall Bed & Breakfast, a stately home just steps from the Village Green on West Main Street. Trish was hanging up her corporate cleats and looking forward to an exciting new venture: managing a bed & breakfast. Kevin had shortly before hung up his own, leaving a law practice for desired simpler surroundings. They upgraded the venerable mansion, which sits back from the street, hovering over the grounds and the northwest corridor of the Village Green like a majestic sentry keeping watch on a kingdom, and called it the Captain’s Manor Inn. The meticulous grounds make this magnificent edifice a highlight of our revitalized downtown.
Kevin and Trish sought a post-corporate vocation. What they found is a home. When they reached out to other B&B owners seeking collaboration, they sought cooperation. What they found was a group of new friends and supporters. I had the pleasure of joining Kevin and Trish, as well as the owners of five other Falmouth B&Bs for dinner recently, and was introduced to one of the Falmouth business community’s best stories – a group of business people who seek camaraderie along with competition – who pursue mutual success and not just individual achievement.
The Falmouth B&B Association together purchased a charity item at the FHS Senior Auction – dinner cooked by me – because of their collective commitment to the community. That says it all right there. They – individually and collectively – wanted to make a statement of support for the young people of our community – of their community. As Donna and I, ably assisted by our pals Jack Rosenbaum, Annie Holden, and prep cook extraordinaire Barb Clarkson, prepared braised short ribs, parmesan risotto, and individual apple pies for twelve new friends, our leaders of the local hospitality industry shared stories of handymen and window washers, demonstrating that with all the technology available at our finger tips today, the strongest endorsement of a business is still a referral. And refer they do. Since the success of the local B&Bs are built on referrals, they actually refer business to one another and even share a website for common reservations.
As they enjoyed apple martinis and meatballs as well as sweeping and dazzling views of Vineyard Sound on the porch of Bailey’s-by-the-Sea, hosts Liz and Jerry Bailey demonstrated what all in attendance called the “law of abundance,” that is, the concept that there is enough for all of the local establishments to share. Enough commerce, enough information, enough good will, and most certainly, enough smiles and laughter. Howard Grosser, owner of the spectacular Inn on the Sound at the crest of heartbreak hill, pitched the idea of the joint charity purchase to his fellow innkeepers and was an engaging companion in the kitchen as my crew and I stirred, braised, and blended. He told the story of how 11 B&Bs dotted the landscape in Falmouth Heights in 2000, and how that number had dwindled to less than a handful today, evidence of the toughness of the business – and of the steadfastness of my dinner guests.
Innkeepers Martha Bridgers & Julie Brienza from the lovely Woods Hole Passage explained how they divvy up the responsibilities with Julie handling the outside and Martha the indoors. Jim and Maureen Trodden, owners of the striking Inn at Siders Lane told an amusing story of how Jim asked his barber (who just happens to be a former B&B owner and my Dad) Phil Stone about the business. Like other members of this friendly coterie of commerce, Phil was happy to oblige and share his experiences.
I asked our dinner guests to offer one word to describe Falmouth. From “eclectic,” to “inclusive,” to “welcoming,” our room full of Falmouth ambassadors offered a mosaic of good vibes about our community. Anne Grebert, owner of the historic Captain Tom Lawrence House, simply said, “Nice.” Yes, indeed. Isn’t Falmouth – and its B&Bs and their owners – really, really, nice.