Small farmers open bed and breakfast, cafe
| September 22, 2019 2:00 AM
The Peerman family is proving size doesn’t matter when running a successful local business.
Since June, they have been operating a Whitefish bed and breakfast, the Farmhouse Inn & Kitchen, feeding café customers with food made from scratch and selling handmade bath products out of a space scarcely big enough for the family of six.
“We do everything with space in mind,” owner Brandi Peerman said.
There seems to be no limit to the family’s diverse pursuits, from raising endangered sheep to micro-roasting their own organic coffee.
“We try to do as much as we can local,” she said. She has little trouble meeting this goal, since the family runs a 16-acre “hobby farm” about 10 miles west of Whitefish. They source the ingredients for many of their café and body products, including meat and soaps, from the family farm.
The entire operation is a family affair. The four homeschooled children help out on the farm, and the oldest two often work in the café.
“It’s part of their education to know where their food comes from and know how to do cool stuff and useful things,” Peerman said.
That side of the job is intimately familiar for Peerman. The California native has a professional background in real estate, but she also spent her childhood “milking our own goats” and “raising our own chickens.”
“That’s how I grew up,” she remembered.
She admitted, “I have no restaurant experience or history at all,” but “I have a lot of experience with feeding a lot of people.”
“I come from a really large Czech family,” she explained. “One hundred and fifty people was common to have at our house on weekends. In a Czech household you treat everybody like family.”
She brings this Czech heritage to the unique offerings at The Farmhouse Inn & Kitchen.
“We use family recipes for pastries and breads,” Peerman said.
Their most popular product is the Czech kolache, a sweet bread with hand-picked huckleberry filling and streusel topping.
“It’s not tourist food,” she said.
As a bed and breakfast, the Farmhouse Inn strikes a balance between catering to locals and inviting in tourists.
“I think we’re doing really well so far,” she observed. “We’re 75% booked and we have bookings all the way until next fall,” for their three bed and breakfast rental rooms. But, she stated, “I think the locals knowing about us is going to be key to getting through the winter.”
She said generating this local knowledge is a little challenging in their location on Lupfer Ave., two blocks west of downtown Whitefish.
“We’re just a tiny bit off the beaten path,” she noted. “Everything here has to be that good that people will drive two blocks to see us.”
They’re also raising awareness through their involvement with the local community. In addition to selling wool from their sheep at the farmer’s market, they donate some of the animals they raise to local families and provide therapy goats to children in the area’s foster care system.
While all these activities keep the Peermans busy, they already have plans to expand. In the next few weeks they anticipate opening up a greenhouse in their courtyard where they can better accommodate their customer base.
“We’re really pressed for space,” Peerman admitted. In the greenhouse, “we can seat quite a few people year-round. Hopefully that’ll fill the demand.”
Starting in the spring, she also hopes to start hosting small weddings in their quaint space. She insisted the menu for events “is highly customizable,” and she believes The Farmhouse Inn & Kitchen’s unique personal touches could “really make it intimate, special and custom.”
The Farmhouse Inn & Kitchen is located at 28 Lupfer Ave. in Whitefish. The café is open every day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Reporter Bret Anne Serbin may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 758-4459.