The initials B&B as shorthand for homey inns offering bed and breakfast to a handful of guests may not be as venerable as the same initials designating the French liqueur, but B&Bs are well enough established across the country--even in the Southland--to begin taking their licks, such as was administered last month by Times Travel Editor Jerry Hulse:
" . . . A surprising number of B&Bs are little more than drafty old fixer-uppers where guests gather to share a plate piled high with warmed-over muffins, a communal bath and a few slugs of drugstore sherry," he wrote.
But the B&B business is established enough to be concerned about image, and a number of California proprietors have banded together to train their aspiring counterparts. Pat Hardy of the Glenborough Inn in Santa Barbara writes that "there are many of us in the B&B 'industry' who are working to establish standards and train aspiring innkeepers in the opening and operation of a 'professional' inn."
Last week, for example, the Bed & Breakfast Innkeepers Guild in Santa Barbara conducted its 10th three-day workshop, offering 20 hours of classroom time and 15 hours of consultation from 10 practicing innkeepers to those interested in entering or improving the inn business. Another workshop is scheduled for Oct. 20-22, details of which are available from the guild(P.O. Box 20246, Santa Barbara 93120). The workshop covers, according to the prospectus, "everything you ever wanted to know about starting and operating a bed-and-breakfast inn, and a lot of things you didn't think you needed to know."
Hardy and three fellow Santa Barbara innkeepers have also written a manual, "So . . . You Want to Be an Innkeeper, subtitled, "The Complete Guide to Operating a Successful Bed & Breakfast Inn" (published by 101 Productions, San Francisco). The guidebook concedes that "attrition among innkeepers is high" but foresees a bright future, encouraged in part by imitation from many within what they call "the traditional sector of the hospitality industry."
"These hotels," the authors write, "have initiated major renovations to give their rooms some of the charm and individuality that characterize inn guest rooms; some have developed whole floors with 24-hour concierge service to do what innkeepers do at small inns. The most obvious and prevalent change of all has been the addition to ads and even to neon signs of the words \o7 bed and breakfast\f7 , which in the morning will mean the appearance of anything from a roll, juice and coffee to a coupon for a breakfast at a nearby restaurant.
The popularity of the guild's workshops encouraged the University of California to offer one-day versions through their extension programs at its campuses in Berkeley, Santa Cruz, San Diego and, of course, Santa Barbara.