A plan blossoms

Ten years in the making, Vancouver couple opens historic Briar Rose Inn

The first time Ted and Sallie Reavey met – on a blind date 22 years ago – Ted told the woman who would become his wife his dream of someday owning a bed and breakfast.

An unusual thing for a man to say, Sallie thought, but memorable, nonetheless.

Ted, however, does not remember this conversation.

The couple married and moved from Chicago to Vancouver together. After living in East Vancouver for a few years, they decided it was time for an investment that would provide for retirement.

Ted was a convention coordinator for Motorola who traveled extensively and Sallie a United Airlines flight attendant.

They talked about buying a few small houses to rent out or an apartment building. But Sallie kept thinking about her first conversation with her husband. Throughout his travels, Ted grew weary of staying in Hilton and Marriott hotels, finding more joy in the quaint, one-of-a-kind B&Bs.

She found a historic three-story fixer-upper on 11th Avenue bought it 10 years ago for $220,000.

"It was a falling down dump," Sallie said. But despite its sorry shape, the couple could see its inherent charm.

Ted, a self-taught carpenter, figured he could have the house transformed in two years tops, he said, laughing.

Now 10 years later, Ted is renovating the last upstairs bedroom, dubbed the Hemingway Room. When completed, there will be four bedrooms available for rental.

The couple opened the Briar Rose Inn in September, and have seen occupancy rates steadily climb since then. Sallie estimated they will see a profit by the end of 2007.

"Nobody is more surprised than us that people want to stay here," Sallie said.

The renovation has cost less than $50,000. They live in the house and split domestic duties. Because the restoration costs have been relatively low, they are able to charge less than standard hotels – $75 a night, which includes breakfast prepared by Ted.

One cost the couple wasn’t expecting was the permitting process through the city of Vancouver.

"We were very naive, thinking we could just go down to the city, hand over $200 and get a business license," Sallie said. "Seven months and $9,000 later, we were ready to go. We joke that there needs to be a support group for people who have to deal with the city."

The house is listed on the local historic register and each bedroom has a subtle theme. Working on the home has been a privilege, although he didn’t take into account his age when he began the project 10 years ago, Ted said.

"When we’re here alone now, it feels kind of lonely," Sallie said. "The house comes alive when people stay here. I’ve enjoyed it all more than I ever thought possible."

Briar Rose Inn

Sallie and Ted Reavey, owners

314 W. 11th St., Vancouver



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