Washington column for April 27

New owners of Gay Street Inn

Drew and Deb Beard are the new owners of Washington’s Gay Street Inn. Courtesy photo

The Gay Street Inn, an 1850s farmhouse that was restored and redecorated into a fine country B&B at the end of Gay Street, has two new owners, Drew and Deb Beard from Washington, D.C.

Deb grew up in southern New Jersey, just outside of Philadelphia, and Drew’s roots are in the Piedmont region of western North Carolina. They both took jobs in DC after college. Drew spent over a decade with the federal government before retiring in January 2017. Deb is a chemical and environmental engineer who continues to work part-time for a Virginia-based consulting company. They lived for almost ten years in the Eastern Market neighborhood of Capitol Hill.

Their love of travel (which included many B&Bs and boutique hotels) and entertaining had them both thinking about getting into the hospitality business years ago, but it wasn’t until they stumbled onto Little Washington that they knew the time was right to make the move. They knew of the town’s reputation as home to the world-famous Inn at Little Washington, but it was actually on a visit to Copper Fox Distillery in the summer of 2013 that Drew first explored the town and the surrounding county. (Drew is a whiskey enthusiast and writes for a wine, beer, and spirits blog in his spare time.) What Drew remembers about his first visit to Rappahannock County was being so surprised that such a beautiful and untouched landscape existed so close to D.C. After that first visit, they would hike and vineyard-hop in the county and surrounding areas, and both became more and more enamored with the idea of living in a place like Rappahannock.

In 2015, they both decided to begin seriously considering a career shift to the hospitality business. Their education honestly began by reading “How to Run a B&B for Dummies” which was actually a pretty useful book. Deb was always an avid home baker, and they hosted brunch and big meals for family and friends often in DC, so they knew the food component of the business would come easily to them. But they knew little about the other aspects of operating a B&B. Eventually they both started working with an inn consultant at the B&B Team and attended one of their weekend seminars in Charlottesville on operating a B&B. They left that seminar encouraged to pursue their dream of owning a B&B and knowing that with the right property they didn’t need to wait until their retirement.

When deciding on a location, both wanted to stay as close to family in North Carolina and the DC area as possible, so they looked in Maryland, the Charlottesville area, and the mountains of North Carolina. Then in November 2016 their day came when their realtor mentioned the Gay Street Inn. They both remembered how beautiful the area was, so they took the big leap and decided to investigate.

The inn was everything they could have wanted in both a home and a business, and they have the previous owners — Gary and Wendy Aichele and, before them, Kevin Adams and Jay Brown — to thank for that, said Drew.

“And the more we got to know the town and the people in it, the more we really saw ourselves loving life in Little Washington,” he said.

Drew and Deb were spoiled with the culture and culinary options of DC, but they realized that a move to Rappahannock wouldn’t mean giving that up. Granted their options are a little more limited, but there’s so much in this town and the larger county to admire and enjoy.

They joke with their old neighbors in DC that they moved to a town of less than 150 people, “yet we live closer to a restaurant and a theater than we did in DC. More importantly, there’s just a wonderful energy here. It’s somehow vibrant and peaceful all at the same time, which is a real rarity in small towns,” said Drew.”

Gary and Wendy handed over the keys on April 10 to Drew and Deb, and their first guests arrived on April 12.

Welcome to the town of Washington, Drew and Deb Beard. And best of luck with your new inn. Be sure to stop by and welcome Drew and Deb to the community.

Garden week and market

Mayor John Sullivan and Laura Dodd have been busy planting roses in the barrels all through the town. They were also seen raking leaves.

They’re getting the town looking beautiful for Historic Garden Week, Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Also that day, The Inn is holding a special market from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. in the lot behind the Post Office.

They are shooting for their first official Sunday Market return on May 7, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Rappahannock Sampler

Episcopal Church Women (ECW) are selling raffle tickets at the Trinity Episcopal Church Parish Hall this Saturday during Virginia Garden Week for a Rappahannock Sampler — products made or grown in Rappahannock County.

The retail value of the “sampler,” is approximately $1,000, from chutney to wine school, herbal essence to coffee, apple butter to a needlepoint tote bag. Cost per ticket is $10. The raffle will be held at 3 p.m. All proceeds help the charities of Trinity.

Birthday wishes

Birthday wishes go to friend Chuck Moore from Harris Hollow. He will celebrate his special day on Thursday, April 27. May you have many more Chuck! Also wishes go out to a dear friend Jimmy Foster of Fodderstack. He will celebrate his 71st birthday on Monday, May 1. I have known Jimmy for many many years. He is a kind person with a heart of gold. You can see him at the Country Cafe helping David and Betty when they are in a crunch.