Part 2 of our Getting to Know Your Innkeeper: Jeff Sudakov. Jeff is the husband of Chef Monika and her partner in crime. Here is a little insight into Mr. Monika (so dubbed by Paula Sands) and some of his history.
1) Where are you from? I am from California. The beach comber, Southern Cal in flip flops type. Which is why I’m usually in shorts, even in the dead of winter here in Illinois. Actually, I spent most of my time in a theater or dance studio.
2) How did you end up in Sheffield? We drove here of course. I was behind the wheel of the moving van. Actually I didn’t even see the inn until we pulled up. My wife and dad came to scope it out and decided it was perfect and I went along with their decision. Hoping it was as good as it looked, The Chestnut Street Inn just had everything we were looking for in a Bed and Breakfast.
3) Didn’t you have culture shock when you came to such a small town from California? No, the culture shock is in the other direction, moving from a small town to a big metropolitan area. Coming to a small town was like a sigh of relief. And the golf is way cheaper.
4) What did you do before becoming an innkeeper? My first career was as a singer and dancer in and around Southern California. I was a company member of a couple of dinner theaters. It didn’t pay great which means I spent a lot of time waiting tables, but I did get to do 7 shows a week for many years. After a stint on Princess Cruises, Monika and I moved to Las Vegas and I hung up my tap shoes, although tap was never really my forte, but you get the idea. After having a desk job in Vegas for 5 years, I was definitely ready for a change. I couldn’t go back to dancing and the restaurant business seemed right up our alley.
5) Define your main duties at the Chestnut Street Inn. In the kitchen my main responsibility is dishes and to stay out of my wife’s hair. When we are doing dinner service, I am, as they say, the front of the house, taking care of guests, and my wife is the back of the house. This means I’m host, waiter, sommelier, bus boy, coat girl, valet, butler and any other title I can swipe. I am also the upstairs maid, although to save my back Monika does all the bathrooms. But I do all the dusting, vacuuming, making beds, monitoring fireplaces, etc. Probably my main job though is doing about 30 loads of laundry a week and ironing all the pillow cases, napkins, place mats and more. I joke that I do the laundry because if Monika did it she would shrink the king sheets to fit the full size bed and all the sheets would be dyed a lovely shade of peach, but really we have to divide the work somehow to be even. I also handle all the subcontracters, do a lot of the exterior maintenance and basically the back breaking work. With all that I should have won employee of the year this year! Darn cat.
6) What is it like working with your spouse? How is it that you haven’t killed each other yet? To be honest, if you were really going to kill your spouse because you spend 24/7 with them, you probably shouldn’t be married. Monika and I have worked together in 4 different businesses. I can’t imagine NOT working with her. The fact that we get to work together and own our own business together is the best thing I could imagine. She is my best friend. Besides, I know who wears the pants in the house and who is the boss. Remember, happy wife, happy life. It does mean I have to listen to a LOT of Celine Dion in the kitchen and right now that means her Christmas album on a nonstop loop for the next month. I may pull my hair out but as long as Monika is happy, it’s all good. Every once in a while I will beg for some Lady Gaga or Adam Lambert and fortunately she will indulge me but it’s her kitchen.
7) Speaking of hobbies, what do you like to do in your off time? My favorite hobby is obviously golf. I would love to be able to play twice a week. Most weeks during peak season I play once a week. But once in a blue moon I play more than that. Overall I play about 40-50 rounds a year which is pretty good for a 14 handicapper who never practices. I love it when guests want to play and anytime someone wants me to escort them around the golf course, I’m in!! So please bring your clubs along, I would be happy to take you out to the course. The one hobby I look forward to in “retirement” is cross stitching. I have many kits partially done and many that I have not been able to start because I just haven’t had time to do it. Someday that’ll be my old man with a blanket around me and a magnifying glass in front of me hobby.
8) What’s your favorite part of being an innkeeper? I thought you already asked me the question about spending all my time with my wife??!!! Truly it’s the people that we meet. In the 10 years that we have been doing this, we have met some amazing and wonderful people. Some are fellow innkeepers, some previous guests, and many have become life long friends.
9) What future goals do you have for the inn since you are the project guy? The big “have tos” in the next 3-5 years are the roof, gutter system, boiler and exterior paint. The short list of small projects include new shelves in bathrooms, new storm doors on the side patio and getting furniture for the fire pit. Then there is the “want to” list. The ultimate goal is to expand the size of the kitchen into the laundry room space, but working backwards that means moving the laundry room into the innkeepers quarters and building a new loft area for ourselves. But that isn’t happening any time soon. The current big project is the new tables and lighting in the sun porch, which we should have done in the next couple of months.
10) Do you ever take time off? What do you like to do? We like to take a break once a quarter. In the second, third and fourth quarters that means a long weekend. Usually that involves visiting other bnb’s, a trip to Chicago and maybe a concert. Usually I play golf, we go to several movies and of course we always find a great restaurant or two or three. In the first quarter we usually do get a chance for an extended getaway, which means we will give up a weekend, but most of the time we work through the off season because we will actually get guests even in the winter and can be quite busy. These extended getaways usually involve visiting family in warmer climates. Someday we would like to take an extended trip to Europe but that’s on the wish list right now.