By: John Coffelt, Manchester Times Staff Writer
It took local innkeeper Trish Porter a while to accept that what people were saying about her bed and breakfast was a compliment. She’s really not old enough to be called “grandmotherly,” so when people started posting reviews of the bed and breakfast, Mint Julep Manor, that she and her husband, Daniel, operate, that it was like staying with grandma, Trish was at first a little taken back. But soon enough, she started to realize how much of a compliment those reviews are.
The Porters operate the three-suite bed and breakfast out of their historic two-story home located just outside Manchester on the Murfreesboro Highway. It’s their retirement project.
They had planned to buy a boat and cruise the Caribbean.
“We came from Murfreesboro in 2017. We sold our farm, he was going to work one more year and I retired form my job,” Trish said. “We were going to be in the Caribbean on a sailboat.”
She happened to see the home was for sale.
“It has character,” she told Daniel, who jokingly responded that Trish’s phone was breaking up.
“ ‘Has character’ means it’s going to be a lot of work and to cost a lot of money, and it did,” he said, recalling hauling a 600 lbs. antique bathtub up to the loft apartment.
“I’ve always wanted to run a bed and breakfast,” Trish said. “After we moved in, I told Daniel this would make a perfect bed and breakfast.”
Daniel replied instead, “I’d rather slam my hand in a car door.” Trish kept the idea alive. In her work travels, she had stayed at a lot of British bed and breakfast establishments and was hooked on the concept.
“I knew what I wanted, so this is Daniel’s boat,” Trish said.
She explained that the bed and breakfast experience is much more personable than a traditional lodging experience.
“We have a lot of first-time guests. You can tell they’re nervous, so I ask them if they’ve ever stayed at a bed and breakfast before. I tell them, it’s like renting a hotel room. If you want to socialize, you come downstairs. If not, you rented your space, you can stay up there.”
Daniel notes that with a large hotel, the focus is on quantity — how fast can they turn the room, how cheap can they can clean the room and furnish them.
“(Trish) is focused on comfort,” he said.
And comfort food.
Trish said that the family spends a lot of energy on meals. That focus on fine dining carries over to the personal touches they add. Almost everywhere in the house, there are treats, often fresh-baked, and numerous singles serving coffee makers. When Daniel is not traveling, he grinds and perks (as in uses an old fashioned peculator) a special blend of coffee. Each stay includes home-cooked meals, served at the dining location of the guest choice. There are no communal meals. Dining with strangers makes some folks nervous, even before COVID-19.
“A lot of places have a family-style meal at a certain time. That’s the scariest thing for people who’ve never stayed at a bed and breakfast,” she said.
People fill out a menu the night before and Trish will have it ready when they’re ready.
She notes, however, that for a lot of guests, they tend to be shy the first day. Then they start to mingle more with the other guests and start sitting together. Some guests are more the private types and remain in their room, the entire stay. Some, Trish said, practically spend their entire stay at the gazebo.
Trish has never met a stranger, Daniel boasted of Trish.
“She was in sales for years. Our home has always been open to whomever,” he said.
“Sometimes we come down a socialize and others keep to themselves,”
Another focus that Trish prides herself on is the cleanliness of the establishment.
Daniel said she is a clean freak before COVID-19, and that increased over 2020.
He joked that if he stops moving long enough, she spray him with sanitizer.
Jokes aside, the Mint Julep has been busier since the pandemic hit.
The Carriage House is the most popular of the three suites. The completely remodeled detached garage apartment includes a very popular six-foot claw foot tub for a relaxing soak, an inspiring view of the surrounding hills and a newly added deck.
The smallest (colloquially dubbed, cozy) suite has an heirloom bed that has been in the family since before they made mattresses. The hardwood frames were extended with blacksmith wrought bars that give the bed the added length of a full bed over a straw mattress.
“We use luxurious linens. People are always bragging how soft the towels and sheets are,” Trish said.
“We try to add little touches that they wouldn’t get at a hotel,” she said.
“We do small parties, have a small event space, but our primary business is the bed and breakfast,” Trish said.
To find out more about the facilities find the bed and breakfast on Facebook or email Themintjulepmanor@gmail.com.
Article and photography provided by the Manchester Times and writer John Coffelt.