WESTFIELD – When Jane and Charles Breeding were looking to get started in the bed and breakfast business, they knew exactly what they wanted.
“We looked all over the U.S., and we knew we wanted to come someplace that didn’t have the humidity in the summer,” said Mrs. Breeding. “We didn’t want anything Victorian. We wanted something that was a little more country-casual, but yet still charming.”
Natives of Washington D.C. and Indianapolis, the Breedings found the perfect location to start their business – the William Seward Inn in Westfield.
“We bought the inn through an inn broker,” Mrs. Breeding said. “We love the house because it’s very different.”
Situated on Route 394 between Westfield and Mayville, the William Seward Inn features 12 rooms, a restaurant, a meeting room and many local attractions close by. According to the inn’s Web site, www.williamsewardinn.com, rooms come with private baths, televisions, wireless high speed Internet access and air conditioning.
“You’re always entertaining someone,” Mrs. Breeding said. “To own a bed and breakfast, I think you have to be the one that wants to give the party and not the one that wants to go to the party. If you like taking care of people or pleasing people and making sure they have a good time and making sure they like the food, that’s a skill you really need for a bed and breakfast.”
Mrs. Breeding said she is very excited about the inn’s restaurant, which, she said, features an American menu and is moderately priced. The Breedings have also hired a new professional chef, James Stofko, who has received training at various country clubs in the United States.
“All of our regular guests just love him,” Mrs. Breeding said. “He came on board last July, and the food, where it was good before, now it’s a lot more sophisticated. He has a lot of French overtones, lots of sauces.”
Patrons of the restaurant, which is open for dinners Thursday through Monday, have a variety of items to choose from for their meals, including duck and fresh seafood.
“Our commitment is first to quality, and we try to buy as much local dairy and produce as possible,” Mrs. Breeding said. “We have a reputable seafood supplier. We buy very good product to begin with, but want to have a casual atmosphere. We don’t want people to think that this is a place just to come to for a special occasion.”
Mrs. Breeding said the restaurant is more casual than it used to be and features an a la carte menu, where before, guests had to call in their order in advance and sit through several courses.
However, Mrs. Breeding said patrons should still call and reserve a table, as the restaurant can be either really busy or very slow.
“There will be weekends when we’re just absolutely packed,” she said, “and there will be weekends when there’s just absolutely nobody.”
The business is usually very busy during the summer and fall months, Mrs. Breeding said, and the inn often runs special packages containing discounts on both a room and the restaurant.
“The rooms are really busy in the summer and fall,” she said. “In the winter, we have people who are traveling on Route 90 that will stop. We have some local people that are here for business of some sort. On the weekends, there’s the Wine Trail and different things that are happening.”
Guests to the William Seward Inn will also get to experience a bit of history, as the home was owned by William Seward, an agent of the Holland Land Company in Westfield, a Governor of New York, a U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State under Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. Seward was also responsible for the purchase of Alaska from Russia.
But, while the historical aspect is very important, Mrs. Breeding said the inn is still a place where people can come and relax.
“We want it to be comfortable,” she said. “Some places are very historic, and you can’t sit on the chairs. So, we try to make it as comfortable as possible for everyone because you want people to come and enjoy it and treat it like it’s their own. You don’t want it to be at all stuffy.”
While May will mark two years since the Breedings took over the business, Mrs. Breeding said they are still looking at ways to improve.
“It takes you that long before you figure out what you really want to do with things,” Mrs. Breeding said of her time owning the inn. “We think we have our food where want it. We have a quality we want, and we’re starting to get some very loyal, repeat customers. We want people to realize it’s not just a place for special events. We want people to come in, get comfortable and have a good time.”
When asked what was the best part of owning a business, Mrs. Breeding was quick with an answer.
“You get to meet all sorts of interesting people and you learn something new from everybody that comes by,” she said. “It’s a good experience and a good way to meet people. You develop some lasting friendships. We have regulars and then we have people who it’s their first time, and they say, ‘Wow. What a gem. We never knew this was here.’”
Open year-round, the William Seward Inn is located on Route 394 between Westfield and Mayville. The inn features 12 rooms of different styles, a meeting room complete with audio and visual equipment and a restaurant serving dinners Thursday through Monday. There are often special packages, including room and restaurant discounts, available. For more information, visit www.williamsewardinn.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 326-4151.
The William Seward Inn, located on Route 394 between Mayville and Westfield, offers guests rooms with many amenities as well as a restaurant.