In less than a year Seven Gables Pensione, an early 1900’s farmhouse transformed into a bed and breakfast, has managed to entice hundreds of visitors and was named Prosser Small Business of the Year.
“It’s a huge compliment, it’s a lot to live up to,” said owner Deborah Augustavo.
Augustavo purchased the historic house and surrounding land in May of last year from the Port of Benton. The area is part of Vintner’s Village, an 18-acre development just south of the original wine village.
After purchasing the home, Augustavo spent nine months renovating the old farmhouse and turning it into a luxurious bed and breakfast, complete with a garden and some lively chickens.
“I tried to add a little bit of flair to the house, but not having it too fancy because I still wanted to have it like a farmhouse,” said Augustavo. “A French country farmhouse is really what I was trying to do.”
The combination between country and vintage European motifs make the visitor feel as if they are transported to what may have been Marie Antoinette’s country cottage. With Victorian light fixtures and vintage gowns hanging in many of the rooms, the six bedrooms and bathrooms are each decorated in their own chic style.
“I had a local artist that has helped me with a lot of the painting in the house,” Augustavo said.
Once renovations were done, Augustavo had a soft opening, relying on her website and word of mouth to attract customers.
“A lot of the nearby wineries have just been real, real supportive,” she said. “I think this year I’ll do twice the amount of business then what I did last season.”
In the summer of 2011 the bed and breakfast managed to stay relatively full from May through November. She also hosted weddings and holiday parties during the winter months.
“We’ve had a number of Tri-City (visitors), Oregon, Idaho, California —I’ve had just a number of people from all over,” she said.
What is attracting these visitors is most likely the 40 wineries in the surrounding areas.
“I’ve gotten a number of people that are in from Canada, they read about the Yakima Valley and they’re interested in wine,” said Augustavo.
Now that her bed and breakfast is up and running, she can concentrate on phase two of her business plan.
“When I did my business plan, it had three phases and three components to what I want to do,” she said. “So phase one was a house project, a bed and breakfast project. Phase two is Antiqua and Farm.”
That plan is to turn the old carriage house behind the house into a retail store selling antiques and garden and farm equipment.
“Things that are related to the garden, so garden tools you wouldn’t find at Lowe’s and a combination of new and used,” Augustavo said.
The business owner would also like to sell some of the produce that is grown in the nearby garden.
“And then phase three is my desire to take that third acre and build a cheese making facility,” Augustavo said. “There’s a lot of cheese makers out there and artisan small cheese making facilities, but not in this area. I think that would be a huge draw or a huge compliment. Nothing goes better with wine then cheese.”
Phase two is a working process, so in the meantime Augustavo said she is just enjoying running her businesses and meeting the different types of people who walk through the old farmhouse.
“What I do is property management and development,” she said. “But really my passion —not to sound cliché —is the hospitality aspect of this more intimate kind setting.”