Reprinted from Inns Magazine, May 2013
Susan & Don Steffan, Farmers Guest House, Galena, Illinois
“This innkeeping journey of ours began on our honeymoon,” smiles Susan Steffan. “We rode off into the sunset from our reception to a b&b.” It was the first b&b experience for Susan and Don. Converted b&b goers, they discovered that they loved the lifestyle. In fact it fit their whole family – nine children and all, so they prepared thoroughly to go into the business. “It was a blast,” she laughs. “We did B&B practice every weekend! I would do the whole breakfast regalia, even down to the heart-shaped Fench Toast.” That, she confides, is Don’s favorite.
“It’s wonderfully fun working together,” she says. “It develops your personal relationship so much more.” Their search proved long and discouraging. Until, getting some girl time with one of her daughters, she and Susan happened on Farmers Guest House. “Mom!” said her daughter, coming through the front door, “this is it!”
Their b&b journey nearly ended due to family tragedy. Their daughter, Barbie, really embraced the family plan. “Our youngest daughter wanted to do it as a career,” says Susan. “From the time she was ten years old, she’d be watching the Food Channel and she’d bring some great recipes to me. She was a very good cook.” Sadly, she was killed in a car accident before the family found their b&b destiny. The Steffan family almost put that dream aside. “A year after the accident,” says Susan, “we realized we had to go forward. We needed a restart, and so we went ahead.” Glad they did, Susan says, “I’m thriving on this!” And Don? She has to admit, “He loves it!”
With country elegant style, Farmers Guest House really was accommodation for farmers coming to market. Built as a ground floor General Store with basic lodging above, the inn now boasts beautiful suites, three with a whirlpool for two. All have luxury amenities. Located in the historic downtown area of Galena, “It’s a walk back in time,” says Susan. You can have the most romantic location, but that may not provide romance. “What really makes it is how the innkeepers treat you,” insists Susan. “Being there, providing Concierge Service without being intrusive, that’s true romance.”
Heart-shaped French Toast, anyone?