Meet Laurie Pinnix, half of the duo that owns and runs the Mt. Gainor Inn in Dripping Springs, TX. She and her husband Jerry stumbled into being innkeepers and have built an inn in their likeness, from coffee based on their annual trips to Costa Rica, to keeping their French inspired décor a little bit Texas.
L:R - Laurie Pinnix and the custom gate to the back
ML: It looks like you’re on quite a bit of land out here.
LP: We’re in the middle of the Procno Ranch, so all around us are big ranch owners. Our 23 acres is just a postage stamp!
ML: It’s beautiful back here! How long have you had this B&B?
LP: We’ve owned it for 10 years. We’re just finishing up our addition; we’ve put in a dining room, a kitchen, and two new rooms. The main house was built in 1910. We moved it 100 miles and then we started restoring it. It looked just like a movie set when we moved it.
ML: That’s crazy! Where was it originally from?
LP: Close to La Grange, TX. It took us about two years to restore it. And then we opened up a bed as B&B; we weren’t originally planning on it being a B&B, but word got around that people could come stay on weekends. So we just kind of fell into the business! And it’s been fun.
ML: Were you originally from La Grange, TX?
LP: No. It was a friend of mine’s family home and they were going to tear it down. So we took it and put it out here. It actually got put in a sheep shearing pasture. Then we went, “Okay, well, what do we want to do?” We just started working on it, and it just kind of took on a life of its own.
ML: Wow! How do you like being an innkeeper now?
LP: I love it. It’s the best thing to ever happen to me! Sometimes when you’re not prepared, you know, some things just fall into your lap.
ML: What’s your design aesthetic? I really love the distressed wood in the common areas.
LP: You know, I have no earthly idea. It’s mine. Would you call it eclectic?
ML: I don’t know. I like it though! It’s a little Texas, very cute.
LP: It may be a little, hm, French country?
ML: It’s French Hill Country, how about that?
LP: I love it! I’m going to use it on my website!
ML: Take it! How many rooms do you have?
LP: We have the main house of five rooms and then we have two cottages. We have the Side Oates cottage and we have a new one that is absolutely gorgeous. That’s our newest cottage, and it’s kind of—it’s French décor! What started that was that a friend of mine gave me a set of old French doors from Louisiana that came up during Katrina and they were in good shape. So he picked them up off the beach and brought them back for me.
The Hideaway room
ML: Do you guys ever get to go on vacation?
LP: We do. We close up once a year for about three to four weeks and we go to Costa Rica. And we hang out there for the month of January. And when we come back and we’re ready to go again! We stay booked all year long.
ML: Wow. What’s in the area that draws your guests here?
LP: We have 10 wedding venues in the area and we’re within 15 minutes of five wineries, Pedernales State Park, Hamiltion Pool, Reheimer’s Ranch, and Westcave. And within 20 minutes of two olive oil companies that grow and make their own olive oil. And we’re right next to Wimberley! So you can do as much or as little as you want. We have a lot of people that come and they have a lot of plans and they hit the hammocks and that’s it! There’s nothing to do if that’s what you want, or an all-day adventure. We also have a lot of people who come for anniversaries and birthdays. And because of the wedding venues we have honeymooners. And we have a lot of folks who will come back for their one-year anniversary.
ML: Do you host weddings at the inn?
LP: We do them for up to 20 people, so it’s more of an elopement than a wedding. With so many venues around the area doing large weddings, we just don’t have the facilities for it, but we’ve got a perfect facility for small intimate weddings.
ML: I’m sure they’re beautiful in the backyard garden area.
LP: The last wedding we did was in the back and it was gorgeous. We also have packages, like in-room massages, chocolate dipped strawberries, romantic dinners, so we can do just about anything that people want to make their weekend perfect.
ML: Do you both live on-site?
LP: We live on the 23 acres. We don’t live in the inn.
ML: That’s perfect, plenty of space!
LP: It is! Everybody gets their privacy. It’s a good arrangement. We’re here on-site if anybody needs anything, but we’re out of their way if they want to be very private.
Nell, the inn kitty
ML: Do you offer dinner?
LP: We do, by reservation only. We don’t have a restaurant open to the public, but we do by reservation only for our guests.
ML: Do you do all the cooking?
LP: I do most the cooking, but I don’t do all of it. We do have a professional person that does come in, because I am not a chef. I’m just a down-home cook. I do very good breakfasts and things like that. But I do have people come in and help me out!
ML: I saw a sign about bikes, do you do bike rentals?
LP: No, we don’t do rentals, but we have a lot of people that bring their own bikes. And because of the Austin Cycling Association, which we’re a member of, they have mapped us out maps for bike riders, so they can go on 12 to 60 mile rides. They’re all loops that begin and end at the inn. And since Pedernales State Park is so close, there’s also mountain biking. People from Austin just come out here and park and they ride. So we’re open to bike riders and stuff.
ML: I saw that you have your own brand of coffee—would you tell me about it?
LP: We have a special blend of coffee that we do, that’s made specifically for the inn. When we went to Costa Rica, we had the best coffee we’ve ever had. We came back and couldn’t find it, so we went to a roaster and we started blending our own.
ML: Oh, that’s nice! Is it a strong- or light-tasting coffee?
LP: It’s not strong, it’s full-bodied and rich. It’s a coffee that I think most people like. It’s not bitter at all; it’s really smooth. I guess they like it—our guests buy a lot of it! They can buy it as whole beans or we’ll grind it for them.
ML: Can you give me an example of what breakfast here looks like?
LP: Here’s a sample breakfast: tarragon-orange French toast, a side of sausage, fruit with yogurt, and vanilla orange juice. A sample dinner would be pecan crusted rainbow trout, or the Texas classic: King Ranch chicken casserole.