|Gus & Carol Bruno, Scarborough Inn, Ocean City NJ|
For a time, the Scarborough Inn served as official lodging for the soloists performing with the Ocean City Pops. I discovered a photo of the 35 “headshots” of the stars that stayed with us over the years – these decorated one large wall on the main floor at one time. These talented performers were always a delight. There’s also a picture of the Music Pier marquee announcing our sponsorship of a Pops concert.
We have housed other special visitors; too, like the “real” Gidget – who was in town to attend a surfing event on the Music Pier – her inscribed photo is in the main hallway. We host some of the speakers or performers from the Ocean City Tabernacle. Some of these guests like the fact that we are within walking distance to the Tabernacle grounds and we like offering them a “home away from home” as many travel frequently. A group of teachers stayed at the inn one pre-season while attending workshops at Ocean City High School and asked to return recently. Nurses from the Philadelphia area came to the island for a seminal class reunion and decided to make it an annual event every fall. And, of course, there are the couples who celebrate marriages or anniversaries at the Scarborough Inn.
It’s been a privilege to support local charities, organizations, or special events over the years. Community involvement has been an integral part of our family life. Gus was recently recognized for being part of the “First Night” Board of Directors. This event is a family-friendly, alcohol-free New Year’s Eve celebration and it’s great fun! He also spent many years on the board of the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce. Carol worked with the PTA and served on the board of the Cape Educational Fund. Both of us participated in professional associations for innkeepers.
A commitment to support fellow businesses lead to cooperation with local restaurants, shops, venders and tradespeople for packages or services. We have many photographs of the fresh, local ingredients used in breakfasts and afternoon refreshments taken at the weekly OC Farmer’s Market. Local newspapers, radio stations, and magazines have written articles or conducted interviews at the inn. You’ll see a selection of these features – like the great coverage in Ocean City Magazine – in the main floor hallway. Our very first award was for the decoration of the “Sweet Thymes” room that included the addition of a Pencil Post bed and lively décor by local design team, Donna Hughes and Darla, Too. Several years later when we renovated and redecorated the living room, Joann’s (on Asbury Avenue) created a beautiful and welcoming first impression for inn guests.
Looking at the photographs of the inn reminded us of the many, many changes that were made over the years. When we purchased the Hotel Scarborough in 1988, it had a white exterior with artificial grass on the front porch and aluminum rocking chairs. The interior was painted Beeswax – a pale yellow shade. All of the antique oak dressers were painted different colors. Room amenities included electric fans.
Goodness, the changes that were made over the years! We have photos of the building being painted traditional colors – the final count was eight shades. The demolition of the apartment building next door provided parking for guests, plus more sunlight, space, and fresh air. There are photos of new flowerbeds, the patio gardens, and privacy fencing being added. Other decorating projects in the guest rooms and common areas were chronicled on the website (a new technology & beautifully designed by multi-talented, Jennifer Freeman) and in INN-Sites, the newsletter we created. At one time, we mailed communication to guests; increasingly we use online options for reservations, email, and social media. We’ve added in-room telephones, alarm clocks, AC, televisions (most recently, flat screens), and wireless Internet. We enlarged many rooms and created some of the largest suites on the island. We are constantly re-decorating, too.
Old photographs provide an opportunity to see and reflect on additional changes. While we preserved the “vintage charm” of this historic building, it was also a goal to add “modern amenities” for guests. And we did. In addition, when we became a Bed & Breakfast, the first food offered was a Continental breakfast served in the living room. With the addition of the dining room, we were able to offer more Breakfast options and Afternoon Refreshments, too. Fresh, local ingredients became an important commitment of our menu planning and food offerings.
These recollections would be incomplete without mentioning the many, fine staff members who worked at the inn over the years. Their dedication, hard work, commitment to guest satisfaction, and cheerful cooperation with fellow staff members are invaluable qualities that we value highly. We enjoy the contributions of international students, too. It was fun to interact with young people from around the globe and a recent group was featured in a video presentation about the program. Often, the students bring gifts from their homelands; these are displayed in the Sojourn room on the top floor. The faces of local staff members and students appear in many photographs – notably at the annual party we provided for our team members. Thank you all; we recognize and appreciate your many contributions!
We are especially grateful for the contributions of our dear sons, Peter and Jason. They were part of a very small staff that ran the Scarborough in the early days. They performed many jobs over the years – laundry, housekeeping, groundskeeper, cook, and front desk – and always did a wonderful job (if we say so ourselves). Notably, Jason took over the kitchen and produced scrumptious meals that guests raved about – all without any training – when Carol was unable to do that job. Peter loves computers and became our teacher and guide as we added technology to the inn – both for guest’s use and for inn operations. He continues to be our personal tech guru. We are forever grateful for their love and for their support of this family business. And always they make us proud – every day!
Many important things have remained the same through the years. Local families have owned the Scarborough (as far back as we can discover) throughout her many incarnations and have delighted in forming relationships with generations of guests. What a joy to be part of this tradition of creating a beautiful and welcoming home-away-from-home and extending warm hospitality to our very special visitors and friends. We are grateful for that opportunity and we thank you!
Carol & Gus, Innkeepers
an Ocean City NJ Bed and Breakfast