Jim Gunther comes from a large family — a very large family. The 10th of 17 children, he’s no stranger to a house full of people. So, when it comes to making a meal for 10 roomfuls of visitors at his Napa B&B, it’s no sweat.
“I get to feed 20 people for breakfast,” he said, “It’s like being back at home,” he said with a smile.
These days, home is the Inn on First, which Gunther, 49, runs with partner Jamie Cherry, 52.
They are the new owners of the Inn on First, formerly the Daughter’s Inn. cq
Since buying the business in May 2007, the couple have renamed and rebranded the inn.
“We wanted to add a touch of San Francisco in Napa, a more contemporary look and feel,” said Gunther.
Cosmetic changes have altered the interior, especially in the main rooms, providing a fresh take on B&B interior design.
A soft mustard-colored paint lightens the walls. Tones of red, gold and khaki are spread throughout, including faux suede couches and chairs, red footstools and a celadon-colored settee. Modern lamps and artwork accent the main room.
“We wanted to provide a traditional B&B experience, just updated,” said Cherry. “We knew what we liked in lodging, and we wanted to provide the same feel.”
“We didn’t want ‘Grandma’s house,’” said Gunther.
The 4,000-square-foot inn, a transitional craftsman American foursquare, built in 1905, has five guest rooms, with a separate Garden building in the back offering another five units. cq
Gunther and Cherry, who met in 1994 in San Francisco, are newcomers to the lodging world.
Gunther’s previous careers are varied and diverse. From age 25 to 34 he was a Catholic priest at two different parishes in Southern California.
Leaving the priesthood, he trained as a chef at the California Culinary Academy (Le Cordon Bleu), and then later worked as a software quality assurance manager.
After a layoff in September 2006, Gunther found himself praying about his next move.
The sudden death of Cherry’s brother-in-law in December 2006 left him also considering new choices other than his financial career.
On Jan. 6, which Catholics know as Epiphany, Gunther told his partner of his own epiphany — to own a bed and breakfast inn.
As Gunther described his vision, Cherry told him, “Let’s go for it.”
After meeting Carol and Jim Beazley at an innkeeper training seminar, the two discovered that their second B&B, the Daughter’s Inn was for sale. Striking a deal, the two jumped into the business headfirst, taking over the inn almost one year ago.
Since then, they’ve been quite busy — enough that they’ve decided to hire an extra innkeeper to have a day off now and then. Gunther and Cherry live on site and run day-to-day operations of the business.
Gunther’s Cordon Bleu training comes into play when he cooks breakfast each morning featuring all organic produce and dairy products.
A set of coasters with four-square motif was the design inspiration for the inn’s new logo.
Amazingly, it matched perfectly the square windows of the craftsman style home. Outside, a glass and metal sculpture by local artist Ken Eide acts as both artwork and homage to the business logo. Wild grass and a rounded stone wall accent the artwork.
The inn also offers another benefit to guests — it’s very dog friendly. Canine companions receive a pet toy, treat, pet tag, clean-up bags, outdoor dog shower, custom pet bed and food and water bowl with floor mat.
Why cater to dog owners? “Mostly because we are dog owners ourselves and like to travel with our pets,” said Gunther.
A smaller number of guests take advantage of the offer, but “We’re hoping it will increase,” he said.