The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

May 10, 2009

Shinnston’s Gillum House offers guests simple service



I saw how she serves her guests but doesn’t sweat the small stuff. The Gillum House isn’t meant to be a museum — it’s got a laid-back feel, but Kathleen will jump when a guest needs something.

“I think people choose a B&B; because of the personal attention,” she said.

Kathleen had me up at 6 a.m. to prepare breakfast for five guests, who had about four different dietary restrictions. She warned that my day would start with breakfast preparations two hours before a guest requested the meal, which could have been worse — The Gillum House offers breakfast between 4 and 11 a.m.

When I made my way down to Kathleen’s kitchen, I learned an easy lesson.

“You take care of the innkeeper first,” she said. “So what do you absolutely need to begin your morning? My thing is orange juice.”

We started with coffee.

Kathleen’s son bought her a small, electric coffee roaster a few years ago, so a Gillum House breakfast features roasting coffee beans from a country chosen by the guests. Sugar-free, gluten-free pumpkin-raisin mini-muffins were next on our menu. Kathleen shared her secret: By baking mini-muffins, guests know with one bite whether they like the muffin. So by not wasting giant muffins, a few always remain for a to-go bag after breakfast.

She also has a plan for guests who book a lunch — an insulated bag with The Gillum House’s logo printed on it. Guests can take home a bag, each stuffed with a sandwich, a serving of chips, a vegetable, a bottle of water and a small bottle of hand sanitizer.

Fruit came next in our menu. I cut strawberries, mango and pineapple, then scooped cantaloupe and scattered blueberries. I learned how “little touches” don’t always equal “perfect” or “fancy.” We walked outside to clip some chives to go in the egg white, fat-free cream cheese and chive egg bake. Guests began filing down the stairs to ask for coffee or one of Kathleen’s hundred or so flavors of tea.

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