Breakfast Trends

I had a newspaper reporter contact me the other day about B&B trends. One that she asked about was innkeepers tarting to use more private tables rather than group tables for breakfast. I haven’t noticed that, nor heard anything about that as a trend. What are you seeing out there? What are you doing for your breakfast table(s)?

17 thoughts on “Breakfast Trends”

  1. We are planning on having both options available. Based on our own experience, when we staid in a BandB on our wedding night, we really enjoyed our private table the next morning. Some other BandB’s we’ve been too didn’t offer any private seating and therefore obligated anyone eating breakfast to interact with the other guests. I have on other occasions very much enjoyed the interaction, but I think it is nice when practical to offer both options to suit different personality types and situations.

  2. I like options for just about everything. Sometimes at breakfast I want to have a quiet time, sometimes not. And even if I opt to sit at a private table, I do have the option of joining in on other conversations at other tables. Some breakfasts I want lots of food, other times just a bite. And the time I choose to eat varies, depending on the day’s schedule; if I’m hitting the road early I would love to eat before departing and if I want to sleep in I’d love to be able to eat when I get up — all within reason, of course. I’m glad to hear more innkeepers talking about options for breakfast issues.

  3. Must say this is one of my hottest topics. I run a small b&b, operating on three rooms. I do not have a communal table I prefer to have one table per room. Obviously if all the guests are in one group then I will combine tables so they can all sit together. I personally don’t like to sit with others at breakfast. I am not unsociable but breakfast for me is an eat and go meal, not a sit at for hours. Unfortunately it does seem to be catching on over here to have one table. I can’t think of anything worse than being made to sit at a table with others who really do not want to talk in a morning.

  4. I understand that not everyone is up for conversation in the morning. I also understand that some people like the company and conversation for a variety of reasons — they are traveling alone, they want a more complete travel experience, or they are out-going people. Having individual tables *and* a group table is a great way to accommodate everyone’s needs.

    I think it shows a shift in attitude about hospitality to see group tables creeping into other parts of the world. Growth can be good. I hope this shift is a good one ultimately.

  5. Hmmmm … one of the problems with providing separate tables is that some people travel together. They may stay in separate rooms but come breakfast, the members of one family may want to sit with their uncles and aunts and grandparents.

    For that matter, several of our guests have commented on how much they enjoy having the opportunity to dine at a communal table. “We always enjoy the conversation,” said a guest from Kentucky. “We never know who we’ll meet at a bed and breakfast.”

    On that particular day, the lady from Kentucky met another guest from Belgium. The two ladies up a friendship and they spent the next two days traveling together.

    Some guests have particular places they enjoy sitting. I’ve noticed guests who enjoy sitting by the window to see who’s passing by on Main Street. Other guests have insisted upon sitting with their backs to the wall so they can see who’s coming and going in the dining room.

    If an inn had assigned tables, what would happen if a guest didn’t want to sit at a particular table?

    Surely you wouldn’t MAKE THEM?

  6. Having a sense of humor is important in running a B&B. I see that you abound in humor. Good!

    And let me replay tape #679: I like options so that inn guests can create whatever experience they want for breakfast. It seems you may have been agreeing with me there, but it’s so hard to tell. Wink

    I wonder what Steve has to say about this silliness of yours.

  7. I love the humor, mine tends to be a bit on the dry side so it doesn’t often translate well in forums.

    Choice is nice, but sometimes B&B’s are unable to offer lots of choices. They are all so unique and I wouldn’t want to give prospective innkeepers out there the impression that they can only be successful if they can offer an abundance of choices. Our inn is small (3 guest suites in cabins) and our kitchen and dining room occupy the same space. Breakfast is served family style at 8:30. We offer a three course breakfast that is screened for any allergies or dietary restictions. We have a sideboard of cereal and granola bars and other no-prep food as an option if people find the meal unappealing for whatever reason. In three years of operation we have only had 2 occaisons where people hit the sideboard and it was because they had been guests for five days in a row and could not handle another large breakfast on the fifth day. Most guests laugh at our daily announcement to the table when we tell them what is being surved and then offer the sideboard if they want something lighter. The advantage of having the kitchen in the dining room is the smells are so great, nobody has any interest in sideboard food. Though I am sure a day will come when something burns and we will be less than happy with the smell of the food, but fortunately Kathy is a good chef and doesn’t let that happen (knocking on wood rapidly because I am sure I just jinxed us.

    The wonderful thing about B&B’s is that they are all different and that’s half the fun (in my opinion). You can be successful if you can offer lots of choices, but you can also be successful if you are unable to. Make sure your website and other marketing materials clearly indicate how breakfast is addressed and you should be fine.

  8. I once stayed at a B&B in Oregon that was run by a retired teacher. I was in Oregon for a job interview and requested breakfast 15 minutes early.

    “But breakfast is served at 7:30,” whined the innkeeper.

    “Your website said that we could request breakfast up to 30 minutes early,” I said. “I have a job interview and would appreciate an early breakfast.”

    “FINE!” growled the innkeeper.

    I was dressed and ready for breakfast at 7:10, five minutes before the time the innkeeper had agreed to serve this meal. I entered the dining room. My presence enraged the woman.


    “But I have a 7:15 breakfast?”


    I raised an eyebrow. “Where do you want me to go? The parlor door is locked.”


    I stood in the hallway for three minutes. At 7:15 the innkeeper stuck her head out the doorway and snapped, “Breakfast IS SERVED.”

    I sat down and she SLAMMED an enormous bowl of apple sauce in front of me.

    I hate apple sauce.


    “NOW EAT!”

    I picked up a spoon and began to reluctantly shovel apple sauce into my mouth. It was ghastly. I forced it down with a glass of water.

    There was no coffee, no juice, no milk, and no cereal.

    The innkeeper stood at the end of the table with folded arms and a glower that could curdle turpentine.

    This was probably the worst and most uncomfortable breakfast I have ever had in my life.

  9. OK Folks….(new here…clap-clap)
    The eating-at-the-same-table issue: We have an 8 place dining table and 3 four tops (I am not an experienced server, so bear with me)

    Just last weekend, I tried to “reserve” the big dining table for a family of 7 and it actually worked. (Yea, me)
    HOWEVER, the chef told me that that was tacky – to “reserve” the big table for a family, who had requested it the night before, knowing we had a wedding party staying there as well. (By the way, the wedding party was coming down at all hours)
    (Urrrr…I’m new at this)

    It all worked out…so, my question is: is it considered “tacky” to put a ‘reserve’ sign on a certain table?


  10. Welcome to the list!

    I don’t know if it’s tacky or not. It may not be common, but that doesn’t make it wrong. I think it may be tackier to not take care of your guests’ requests, if they are easy to accomplish.

    I’d rather know ahead of time that a group wanted to sit together than sit down and be part-way through my breakfast before they all came to the table. My feeling is that you did the “right” thing.

  11. I think it would be tackier if the family had to break up and sit at 2 or three tables and the young kids continually run back an forth from table to table. Perhaps a touch to think about, since you are out there serving, is to also play the roll of host and to seat people as they come down. Plan out who would sit where based on the advanced knowledge of the guest list but seat them as they arrive to account for their wishes. Example, as 4 people from the family show up, ask if there will be other members joining them. There may have been some family rift last night and half the family doesn’t want to sit with the other half, or they know uncle so and so likes to sleep late …

    I don’t think the reserved sign is tacky, but your B&B has the benefit of a dedicated person serving (something many do not … yes I am a little jealous) It would be a good way to kick the quality up a notch and make all guests feel more welcome and cared for.

  12. Thank you to everyone who took the time out to reply to my breakfast “problem(s).
    In fact, I gotta go finish setting up for tomorrow’s right now.
    Although I’m new here, I’m still around – so please bear with me.
    I have MANY MORE QUESTIONS! (Plus…I’m still trying to figure out the best way to use this board)

  13. Steve – I just MIGHT move BACK out there! From NC, lived in GA, lived in NV and CA back here (NC) in ’94…

    Oh well…(LOL)

    WHOA! STEVE …. You’re in NY…hmmmm….OK…I’ll come there first then work my way either back down the coast or out west again…nah – I rather prefer the east coast.

  14. When we owned our inn, we had a somewhat similar set-up, 8-top, 6-top and 3 2-tops. We did not “reserve” the bigger tables but tried to hold them if we knew we had large parties coming in for breakfast. We advised those parties that we couldn’t reserve the table for them, so the best thing for them to do was to come into the dining room either at the beginning or the end of the serving time, which was from 8-9:30. If they came in and the table wasn’t fully available, we would not sit anyone else at that table.

  15. Another perspective, and way of doing things. I love it!

    Hospitality is basic, and an individual reflection and offering of service. To me, that’s the beauty of innkeeping. But it can also be the frustrating aspect of the industry because there is rarely one “right” way to do anything.

    I’m sure there are several other ways of approaching this issue. It will be interesting to see how people chime in through time.

  16. Hi Lindsay,
    Welcome to B&B Talk. I like the option you suggest of just quietly managing the situation. I think this is, more often than not, a common method of operation for B&B’s and small Inns.

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