The Fort Conde Inn is a recently renovated historic home in Mobile, AL. Maggie Lundy, the Marketing Assistant at BedandBreakfast.com, recently stayed at the inn while on vacation and interviewed with two key employees.
Alan Waugh, the General Manager, lives on-site and has worked at the inn for over a year and half. He was prepped for the job early, as his parents owned a B&B when he was young. As someone born and raised in Alabama, he understands the essence of Southern hospitality.
Jeremy Weaver is the Executive Chef. He has been a chef for 20 years, both working in and managing restaurants, and has been with the inn since the doors opened over a year and a half ago. What he loves most about working at the inn is the people he gets to meet.
The Fort Conde Inn is only the beginning of a large renovation of the entire Fort Conde Village. The latest addition to the village is the Antunez House, which will provide additional rooms and suites. It is located across the street from the Fort Conde Inn. Keep reading for a sneak peak!
L:R - Alan Waugh, Jeremy Weaver
ML: How do you like working at a B&B?
Alan Waugh: It has its ups and downs, but I love the hospitality industry. It’s a never-ending industry. You meet so many different people from so many different diverse backgrounds, and that’s what I really like about it. I couldn’t sit behind a desk every day and do the same thing constantly. I have to have change. I’m a busybody and a workaholic. I don’t get much time off, but when I do it’s just relaxation because I’m working so hard. With the addition of the three new suites, we have two cottages and nine rooms in the main house, so it keeps me busy.
ML: It really sounds like it. You’ve dedicated a lot of time to this.
AW: Well, this village is a work in progress. When the Fort Conde Village is finished, we want it to be a live, work, and play village, and really have it be a destination spot on the map for people coming from all over the world. When I got into this business, I thought it was mainly the stereo type for a B&B, mid-60s retired couples, but it’s nothing like that. It’s all different people, ages and backgrounds.
ML: What was the design inspiration?
AW: This was the outskirts of Fort Conde back in 1700s. Larry Posner, the owner and developer, wanted this to feel like a French area, like it was back in the day. And all the rooms are named after different family members, of Larry the owner.
ML: Minus one room, right?
AW: Al Sinclair, the director of historic development here in Mobile.
ML: What do you think sets an inn like this apart from a luxurious hotel?
AW: We spent no less than $5,000 on any mattress on the facility, there are Keurig coffee makers in all the rooms, and guest rooms have L’Occtane products, which are the same products in the Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton Hotels.
When we set out to brand our self as a bed and breakfast/boutique hotel or luxury inn, we wanted to have all the comforts of home. I think when you stay in a hotel, they will all be the same all over the country. You’re not going to find somewhere like Fort Conde Inn anywhere in the world. We’re unique in our taste, design, and feel of things.
ML: The L’Occtane products were delightful. The little sugar cube was incredible!
AW: Thank you. It’s just all the little things that make it so much better.
ML: I know you may not think of business travelers as the ideal B&B guest, but people really like coming to inns and having full service in one place. What accommodations are you offering for business travelers?
AW: We try to accommodate all guests in every way possible. If they need an early breakfast, we’ll do it. If they need a late check-in, I’ve checked people in at 2 a.m. before. We have complimentary Wi-Fi, T1 access lines, and we have company iPads if they need to check their email. We can fax or print things for them. We also have areas where they can do business meetings. We have a conference room that can sit up to 50 people, AV equipment, the whole works. Business travelers like us because they feel like they’re at home. They don’t feel like they’re staying in a five-star cookie cutter. All the business travelers that stay with us always stay more than once.
My accomodations, the Rachel Luxury Room
ML: Do you think Southern hospitality a real thing around here?
AW: I really do. It’s a lifestyle. People in the South live differently than people in other parts of the country.
ML: Four people told us to have a good night yesterday at the restaurant, and one of them didn’t even work there.
AW: See! We hold doors open; we call people by their professional names. I could travel all over the country, stay a week or two, and I’m ready to go home to the South, because of the feel of Southern comfort.
ML: Can you tell me why people should come to Mobile?
AW: People come to Mobile because we’re known as the port city. We have a big port here that brings in a lot of different business people, travelers and tourists. We have a cruise terminal.
Mobile is the founder of Mardi Gras. While you’re here, make sure you take a trip the Carnival museum on Government Street. You can learn about the history of Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras started in Mobile; our mayor went to New Orleans and told them in a meeting about it, and a month later they stole the idea. We are a family Mardi Gras, more oriented towards a classic, traditional event here, where New Orleans is a noisy, rowdy event.
ML: What is the most popular season to visit Mobile?
AW: Fall and into part of spring.
ML: It’s already beautiful now, in September.
AW: Yes, it’s beautiful and the weather’s warm. We have Bayfest in October, which is Alabama’s biggest music festival, with over 125 different acts. Last year, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, and Duran Duran stayed with us. This year we’re expecting Sheryl Crow and Pat Benetar. Also, football season is huge. We have Auburn and the University of Alabama, two of the biggest football teams that have won the most national championships out of anywhere in the country, so people love to come here for football.
ML: Can you tell me a little about the inn’s history?
AW: The inn was built in 1836, the second oldest building in Mobile. It was built by our third mayor, Mr. Edward Hall. The home was bought by the Ford family, who were descendants of Fairhope, AL, which was then acquired by the city. When Eisenhower built the interstate system back in the 70s, they took all of it back over by eminent domain, knocked down about 40 of the homes, and this is what’s left of the original neighborhood, the original village of Mobile where the village was started.
ML: It’s shocking that they would knock all that down. Now it feels like you’re in your own little pocket.
AW: Yes, we’re in the heart of downtown, but pocketed to where we’re by ourselves. The interstate separates us. Larry decided one day, during the first banking crisis of the early 80s, that he would restore Newburg, NY. So he had a history in restoration. He came to Mobile in the early 90s. He went to the mayor, who was at the time Mike Dowd, and said, “I want to give back to the city. I’d like to restore some old buildings; what can I do?” Up there on the 10th floor of his office, Dowd peeked out his window and said to Larry, “You see all those old dilapidated buildings down there? That’s called Fort Conde Village. People have bought homes in there and done things over the years, but bank loans fell through or people decided they didn’t want to do this. I’d really like someone to come in; I’d give them the entire village and I want them to restore the whole thing at once.” Larry laughed and said, “Anybody who comes in and restores the whole thing at once would be in complete bankruptcy. I can’t restore the whole thing at once, but what I can guarantee you is that I’ll start the first two buildings immediately and I won’t stop until the village is finished.” It’s a heartfelt thing; there’s no money in it.
We have two more buildings to go. This will include a public bistro downstairs and a full-service spa upstairs. There will be an art gallery and some boutique shops, loft apartments, a welcome center and some conference areas, 20 more B&B rooms, an indoor-outdoor resort style pool, and a sports-flex gym area. So we have big plans for the village.
Back:Front - Where it started from Mike Dowd's office in the Mobile Government Plaza overlooking the latest renovation, the Antunez House
ML: It already looks amazing. What is the timeframe on this?
AW: Over the next two years.
ML: Lastly, is there anything you’d like to offer to our readers?
AW: For all of our returning guests, if you call and book a reservation directly through us from now until the end of October, you’ll get 25% off your stay. And for all new guests, right now until October 31, if you book a reservation through us or BedandBreakfast.com, you’ll get tickets to four local attractions in Mobile: USS Alabama Battleship, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Gulf Coast Exploreum, and Bellingrath Gardens. You need to ask for the Explorer Discount.
A sneak peak of one of the new rooms in the Antunez House
ML: Do you usually source locally for the inn?
Jeremy Weaver: Yes, as much as we can. We have a farmer’s market that goes through the summer; they stop and pick back up for the fall selection. They’ll run right up until December, and then stop again.
ML: What kind of dietary restrictions do you accommodate?
JW: We’re probably one of the few places when you say you have an allergy, or you are a true vegan, we can accommodate you. I’ve gone out and tried to find soy eggs; I went to 5 health food stores trying to find it. I ended up getting her polenta sausage and all that kind of stuff.
ML: I’ve never heard of polenta sausage.
JW: Oh yeah, I’ve got all sorts of stuff in my freezer that I’ll probably never use, unless someone else comes through the door and asks for it. But that’s the fun part of this for me. It challenges me. I’ve had a whole family come in who were allergic to anything processed. They could have eggs, but no milk in them. One of my first guests was a woman who was allergic to eggs. When I meet these people, I get to learn from them. I’ve had limited interaction with this through school, but that’s the whole thing about it, I get to keep learning more and more.
Breakfasts to request at the inn
- Seafood Benedict
- Bananas Foster French Toast
- Eggs Au Gratin with Blue Crab
- Shrimp Omelets
- Corn Roasted Grits
Places to eat in Mobile, AL
- Café 615
- The Bull
- The Dauphin Street Taqueria – in the OK Bicycle Shop
- Liquid Lounge
- Dreamland BBQ – (recommends the half chicken)
- Kitchen on George (Shrimp and Grits)
- The Royal Scam
- Cammie’s Old Dutch Ice Cream (Lemon Custard—delicious!)
Places to eat outside of Mobile
- Ribbon Reds
- The Gulf Shore Steamer
- Crabs – in Florida (Florida chain)
- De Soto’s Seafood Kitchen
Photo Credit: Austin Hansen at Exit Flag Photography