BROOKSVILLE — The Dolan House Bed & Breakfast, which has welcomed overnight guests since January, was launched unintentionally on the heels of an excuse.
"He can't say 'no,' " Tina Jarvis explained about her husband, Michael Dolan.
Dolan, a mild-mannered people pleaser, had been asked to take on yet another community board position — many others already on his volunteer roster.
Jarvis, 62, had finally gotten through to Dolan, 70, that he had enough on his plate. To maintain home harmony, Dolan managed to tell the inviter that he didn't have time — the couple was moving, opening a B&B.
Indeed, after living in Naples for five years, preceded by 10 years touring the country in a motor home, also trekking Europe, the retirees from Seattle found their wanderlust salved and sought a quiet, small-town life in an easy-to-maintain, no-stairs home.
"So, what do we do?" Jarvis said. "Buy a hundred-year-old, two-story house."
They purchased the hist oric 1890s Ederington House, handsomely restored, nestled in a leafy pocket just a stroll from downtown Brooksville. Its architectural pinnings indicate several add-ons over the century, a onetime summer kitchen and attached porches — more house than Dolan and Jarvis needed.
With all of that space, "the gears started turning," Jarvis said, acknowledging that the couple had mused years ago of opening a bed-and-breakfast once they retired.
"We've averaged (guests) two to three weekends every month since February," Dolan satisfyingly reported.
The most recent week saw four couples staying over five nights, occupying two tastefully appointed upstairs queen rooms with private baths, also an enclosed-balcony sitting porch. The stairs, with elbow and landing at mid-flight, precluded getting king-size beds to the second floor.
Dolan and Jarvis reside in spacious downstairs quarters and share the oversized butter-cream kitchen with their guests.
"He talks. I cook," said Jarvis, the couple agreeing that "friendliness" is the No. 1 requirement for B&B owners. "You definitely have to like people."
She mentioned a morning when she had paused in breakfast preparation to graciously chat face to face with a guest. Turning back to the stove top, she found the sausage burned. Hosting, as any job, has its off moments.
"I'm just a home cook, but I've always liked to cook," Jarvis said.
She bakes a pastry every morning, a recent first effort, a successfully flaky, savory-leaning rosemary-apricot scone.
"Tomorrow, a guest has requested blueberry pancakes," she noted.
Most guests come to the Dolan House via its website, many of them suggested by Dolan's and Jarvis' acquaintances gained through their community participation. Dolan is involved with the local arts council, the Brooksville Main Street program and the Hernando Tourist Development Council; Jarvis with the Brooksville Woman's Club and arts council.
Brooksville isn't a big tourist draw, according to the B&B's guest book. Visitors often come because a family member is in a local health care facility, to attend a family reunion or wedding, or for a business conference.
Then there was the Canadian filmmaker producing a show on jet-ski fishing.
"You meet some fascinating people," Jarvis said.
With rates at $125 and $110 nightly through breakfast, Dolan said, "we've had people tell us we're not charging enough."
Through their own travels and those of their guests, Dolan said, he and Jarvis have learned that "motels are all cookie cutters, all the same."
Added Jarvis, speaking of the charm of a B&B: "Where else can you go and sit down and have breakfast with (the hosts), quiet and cozy?"
One thing Dolan said he has learned and wants to share with others: "Starting a business at 70, it can be done."
Contact Beth Gray at [email protected]