Who’s Behind the Counter: Sabrina Stough at Paradise Bed and Breakfast
Fixing up an old house inspired Stough to find her 'inner inn-keeper.'
Catonsville Patch: How long have you been in business in Catonsville?
Sabrina Stough: Paradise Bed & Breakfast opened three years ago last summer.
Patch: Tell us the story.
Stough: I had dreamed for a long time about opening a B&B, because whenever I traveled, I always stayed at B&B’s because you get more of sense of an area, and I thought I might like to run one.
But I bought this house six years ago as an investment property and as a base for my commercial cleaning business. It had been vacant for two years, and I thought it would be fun to fix it up. Then, as I worked on it, I realized that there were these gorgeous big rooms upstairs and that this house might be my B&B.
I applied for the Baltimore County zoning permit, which took two years, and during that time, I shopped for all the furniture and fixtures and decorated the house. I have to stop buying now; I don’t have any more room!
Patch: What do you like about being in Catonsville?
Stough: This is a fantastic location for tourists. It is a quick drive to the inner harbor and historic Ellicott City. People take day trips to Annapolis and DC. I also host business travelers: UMBC, Social Security Administration, Lockheed Martin.
I am also starting to see relatives visiting family in Catonsville, like parents coming to see their kids and grandchildren or kids coming to see their parents at Charlestown.
Patch: Obviously you offer bed and breakfast, but what other services do you do?
Stough: Our zoning does not allow us to cook on premises, so we can only serve a Continental breakfast, but we try to fancy it up.
There are four common rooms on the first floor and also an office for guests on the second floor. Many of our guests like to relax in the sunroom, particularly in the morning with a cup of coffee.
We also host small events like bridal or baby showers. We recently had a memorial service here. Many of the people in attendance were from the Moxley family, which was fun because this used to be their house.
Patch: As in our former County Councilman, Sam Moxley?
Stough: Yes, he grew up in this house. In the Maryland Historic Register, this is known as the Moxley House. It was built in 1927.
Patch: What is your busiest time of year?
Stough: We get busy in the summer, through fall and the end of the year. Holidays are always busy.
Patch: Do you ever get to take a vacation?
Stough: I like to get away for a few days when we don’t have any guests. Just last weekend I went to Cape May for the first time.
Patch: Did you stay in a B&B?
Stough: Of course! I like to chat with other B&B owners and I always get ideas from staying at other places.
Patch: What’s one of the hardest things about your work?
Stough: Because there are only two bathrooms, we usually have only two rooms available unless a family or friends want book two rooms and a bath as a suite. So, we often fill up. It’s hard to turn people away.
Patch: What are you proud of?
Stough: I love this house. It had been empty for two years and was starting to show a lot of neglect, but it had such good features that it was easy to bring it back to life. It has beautiful woodwork, wood floors, French doors, stained glass in the stairs, a marble fireplace in the parlor. Really, most of the work that needed to be done was cosmetic, and I did most of that myself. It is a beautiful example of a classic American Four-Square Colonial home.
Patch: What’s your favorite thing about your work?
Stough: The people who come through. I meet the most interesting people, and some of them stay in touch long after they’ve gone. It’s fun; this doesn’t even feel like work.
Patch: What are you looking forward to?
Stough: We recently went live with a completely updated website. We’re offering some specials like a sweetheart package with roses and chocolate covered strawberries in the room.
Patch: What is one thing you think is needed in the Catonsville business community?
Stough: We have good events that draw people to Catonsville. It would be nice to see more seasonal events, maybe around the holidays, maybe historic homes decorated for the holidays.
Patch: What's the best piece of advice that someone has given you when it comes to running a business?
Stough: It has got to be, “Give people more than they expect. Under promise and over deliver.”
Patch: Who told you that?
Stough: My mother. She passed on long before I had the B&B, but that’s what she told me when I started my cleaning business, and it has been good advice.