Missy Hillock runs the Chateau Bourbon bed-and-breakfast on Meeting Street, which is arguably one of the most popular porches in Norton Commons. “We have to wipe the nose prints off the windows every day,” she jokes. There’s a cool swing on the front porch that solicits visitors and impromptu selfies alike. Chateau Bourbon is a great example of how anyone with creativity and a passion can open a business here in Norton Commons and thrive.
Hillock has lived in Norton Commons for 4.5 years, but she’s celebrating the one-year anniversary of his business. Many Norton Commons entrepreneurs live above their businesses, but Hillock wasn’t ready to downsize at the time she decided to do the bed-and-breakfast. “We actually built an innkeeper suite for my mother, who lives on the property,” she explains. They live just a few streets over, so they still enjoy the convenience that a Norton Commons lifestyle is known for.
“I had never intended on opening a business here,” Hillock explains. “I’m a psychologist by my professional life, which I planned on doing well into my 50s.” Opening a bed-and-breakfast was sort of a pipe dream she came up with after traveling around a lot. Over time, she and her husband noticed that the business sector was growing along Meeting Street in Norton Commons, but there wasn’t any overnight accommodations for people looking to relocate here or visiting friends and family within the community.
“We did our research. We crunched the numbers. We decided it was well worth it and we couldn’t be any more pleased with how it turned out,” Hillock says. “It really is the perfect place not only to live, but for those who can't live within the community, for them to be able to come and visit and experience the restaurants and just the ambience and the atmosphere of the neighborhood. All the green space and the activities and such and then be able to stay overnight has been really a great benefit, I feel like, to our city.”
Neighboring builder Jason Black of Artisan Signature Homes has heard a lot of buzz about the food over at Chateau Bourbon. “We make all the food from scratch,” Hillock says. “When you put a sign out that says ‘Bed & Breakfast,’ you better have nice beds and you better have a great breakfast.”
Though she doesn’t have a culinary background and she hasn’t taken any cooking classes, she is motivated to cook by her passion for food. “Most of what we do is based on family recipes and practicing in the kitchen over time,” she explains. People who dine out a lot are blown away by the food because they are not accustomed to home-cooked breakfasts from scratch and homemade frostings that don’t come from a box. When you have a cocktail at Chateau Bourbon, that’s homemade mixer – not a bottle of sour mix. As Hillock sees it: “It’s really quite simple, but delicious because there are no additives – it’s just fresh and homemade.”
The Hillocks don’t consider themselves “Bourbon connoisseurs”, but they love to drink it. They’re not pretentious. “Put it in front of us and we will drink it,” she explains. “We also like to cook with Bourbon, which is both savory and sweet,” she adds. “We thought it would be great to tie our business in with the Urban Bourbon Trail and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail,” Hillock explains. “It’s so classic Kentucky.”
Hillock adds that the most rewarding part of her job is seeing others experience a business that she’s created. “It's great to be able to see when people walk in the door, they gasp when they see the place. Then, when they take a bite of food, and they’ll say things like ‘This is the best thing I’ve ever eaten’ or ‘This is the best cocktail I’ve ever had’ or ‘I’ve never even tried bourbon, but now that’s all I want to drink because this cocktail is so good’ – I mean, that’s instant gratification!” Hillock says it’s easy to be passionate about her work when the patrons are so appreciative.
Jason Black loves the back sleeping porch at the B&B, but there are four other rooms (with their own bathrooms), each with their own distinctive charm. One room is on the ground floor and three rooms are upstairs. What’s unique about Chateau Bourbon is that it was designed to be a bed-and-breakfast from the start, so it’s really geared toward visitor experience. There is a business center with a guest pantry. The rooms are all master suites -- modern, appointed with televisions, king-sized beds, and individual air controls. One of the rooms offers two queen-sized beds, including one out on the enclosed sleeping porch. Each room is decorated in different color schemes.
The furniture is very eclectic – some of it restored furniture passed down within their family or paintings that have been custom-ordered. You’ll also see a lot of personal touches hand-made by Mr. Hillock himself. The fireplace, floor-to-ceiling headboard, vanity, light fixture, and the back patio swings were all constructed out of Maker’s 46 bourbon staves, barrels and bottles. Some of the paintings were made by Missy Hillock’s mother.
Many of the people living in Norton Commons have stayed at Chateau Bourbon for a night away from home and a home-cooked breakfast. It’s especially handy for people who are having renovations done to the interiors of their homes, as they don’t have to travel far and can keep an eye on their projects. International guests have come to stay from as far away as Australia. Most business is driven by word-of-mouth and personal connections made with the local distilleries, Convention Bureau, and community businesses.
If you’re thinking of booking a stay at Chateau Bourbon for a special occasion coming up, note that the B&B is booked for Derby until 2019. Their “high season” tends to run from April through November. However, they are still a relatively new business, so they are not booked every single night, so there is a likelihood of coming in on short notice. For more information, visit Chateaubourbon.com. You can also connect on Twitter and Instagram @chateaubourbon or Facebook at ChateauBourbonKY.