Tell us about yourself and what you do for a living.
Having started as a baker and cook at the age of 12, I have worked in the hospitality industry for over 50 years. After graduating from the Cornell Hotel School in 1974, I moved to San Francisco to work in Food & Beverage at the Hyatt Regency in the Embarcadero. Those were the days of Harvey Milk and “anything goes” in “Baghdad-bythe Bay” when the Hyatt hosted the Beaux Arts Ball and the Hooker’s Ball. Although married for 32 years, I always knew I was gay, but being gay just didn’t fit in to the corporate profile I pursued as a development, finance, and real estate corporate officer for companies such as Ritz-Carlton and InterContinental Hotels. I came out in 2005 after moving to Flagstaff. Today I own and operate The Inn at 410 Bed and Breakfast (www.inn410.com), a tenroom luxury B&B in the heart of Historic Downtown Flagstaff, Arizona. My husband Frank and I have worked together operating the Inn for the past 11 years. The Inn is an important piece of Flagstaff history and over the past 125 years grew from a modest 1-bedroom home to its current 7,500 square feet of guest space. Once the home of a wealthy banker, its architectural features include coffered oak ceilings and mahogany in the original dining room. With names like “Dakota Suite,” the “Conservatory” and “Southwest Suite” each of the Inn’s guestrooms are professionally decorated to inspire a unique character with modern features throughout. Along with free downtown parking and a complimentary open bar, the Inn offers a gourmet breakfast featuring all gluten-free entrees such as lemon ricotta or blueberry buttermilk pancakes with pure maple syrup and sides of chicken or turkey sausage along with our Southwestern Baked Grits. The Inn at 410 is open year-round and welcomes guests from around the world not only coming to see the Grand Canyon, but also surrounding towns such as Sedona (45 minutes south) and Jerome and Native American historical sites at Wupatki (www.nps.gov/wupa) and Walnut Canyon (www.nps.gov/waca) National Monuments.
How long have you been living in Flagstaff?
Flagstaff (www.discoverflagstaff.com) has been my home since 2003. We live two blocks from the heart of downtown, and walking to its dozens of bars, shops and restaurants is easy from the Inn at 410. We enjoy playing pool at Uptown Billiards (www.uptownpubhouse.net). Uptown, as we call it, is very gay-friendly, and offers six pool tables, along with a very extensive menu of Scotch, American, and Irish whiskeys, and 34 beers to choose from. Our Celtic heritage is popular here so you can often see men in kilts at Uptown. While Flagstaff has no gay bars, we passed our Civil Rights Ordinance in 2012, insuring that no LGBTQ person can be discriminated against in anyway. Downtown also has a wonderful “Ale Trail” with numerous craft breweries such as Mother Road Brewing (www.motherroadbeer.com), Historic Brewing (www.historicbrewingcompany.com), Dark Sky Brewing (www.darkskybrewing.com), Flagstaff Brewing (www.flagbrew.com), Beaver Street Brewery (beaverstreetbrewery.com) and its sister brewery The Lumberyard Brewing Co. (lumberyardbrewingcompany.com).
What influenced your decision to move here?
Los Angeles was my home for 24 years before I bought The Inn at 410 in 2003. I had searched many small towns throughout the Western U.S. and had done a fair bit of consulting in Sedona, almost buying a small hotel there. When the opportunity came up to buy the Inn, I jumped at it. I had always wanted my own small boutique inn and The Inn at 410 was the perfect fit. I love historic homes and I have had a great time restoring and maintaining the Pollock House (on the National Register of Historic Places) aka Inn at 410 during my ownership.
What are your favorite places for a cocktail and/or dinner?
Located in the Carriage House right next door to the Inn, Brix Restaurant & Wine Bar (www.brixflagstaff.com) offers extraordinary farm-to-table food, bringing in mouthwatering local cheeses and meats from Arizona and New Mexico. For my recent birthday dinner at Brix, four of us shared their largest cheese and charcuterie board featuring French Double Crème cheese, warm olives, prosciutto and pâté. I thought I was back in France with the variety of meats and cheeses we enjoyed. For more moderately priced food and drink, I recommend Criollo Latin Kitchen (www.criollolatinkitchen.com) offering Latin inspired dishes like crispy plantain or wings with jalapeno ranch, and Happy Hour margaritas for $3.50. Other recommended dining places downtown include Karma Sushi (www.karmaflagstaff.com) for great Japanese and MartAnne’s Burrito Palace (www.facebook.com/MartAnnes) for authentic Mexican dishes. Two very gay-friendly bars are the Monte Vista Lounge and Rendezvous Bar both located in the Monte Vista Hotel (www.hotelmontevista.com). The Zane Grey Bar (www.weatherfordhotel.com), also popular with the LGBTQ community is located upstairs at the old Weatherford Hotel. This famous Western author lived here in the hotel for several years and it features a mahogany bar built by Wyatt Earp in 1878 down in Tombstone, Arizona and moved up to Flagstaff about 30 years ago.
What cultural attractions are a must see in Flagstaff?
The Museum of Northern Arizona (www.musnaz.org) is the best place to gain an understanding of the rich Native American history of our region. Artifacts dating back thousands of years can be found at the MNA. In the summertime, MNA features the three Hopi, Navajo and Zuni festivals with dances, artwork, and jewelry for the public. Since 1894 Flagstaff has been the home of the world-renowned Lowell Observatory (www.lowell.edu) where the planet Pluto was discovered in 1930. Daily lectures with tours of its libraries and telescopes, along with nightly stargazing are offered at the Lowell. The Riordan Mansion (azstateparks.com/riordan-mansion) offers docent-led tours year-round of this 13,000-square-foot former home of a lumber baron family built in 1902. Most important, the mansion is filled with original Gustav Stickley furniture, so I say the furniture is more valuable than house. Music and live theatre abound in Flagstaff. The outdoor Pepsi Amphitheater (www.pepsiamp.com) is home to “Pickin in the Pines,” a two-day bluegrass festival held in September. The Orpheum Theatre (www.orpheumflagstaff.com), just three blocks from the Inn is a more intimate setting where drag shows are featured after a gorgeous day at Flagstaff’s Pride in the Pines (www.flagstaffpride.org). Some 4,000 folks, both LGBTQ and straight allies gather every year on the third weekend in June in one of our largest city parks to enjoy great entertainment and family fun. Live theatre is found downtown most weekend nights at the Doris Harper- White Playhouse, home of Theatrikos Theatre Company (www.theatrikos.com). Northern Arizona University or NAU (www.nau.edu) also offers symphony and opera throughout the year.
A friend is coming to Flagstaff for the first time…Please describe the perfect weekend.
Arrive on a warm Friday afternoon and check in at The Inn at 410 (www.inn410.com), staying in one of our king-bedded rooms with a jetted tub, like “Monet’s Garden,” which is hand-painted in the style of the artist’s home in Giverny, France. Head downtown for a cocktail at the Zane Grey Bar (www.weatherfordhotel.com), overlooking Heritage Square and then on to dinner at Criollo Latin Kitchen (www.criollolatinkitchen.com). After a sumptuous breakfast Saturday morning at the Inn, head out for the day to the Grand Canyon (www.nps.gov/grca), just 78 miles north of town and take a picnic lunch. Travel north on Hwy 89 passing by the Painted Desert (www.visitarizona.com/uniquely-az/parks-and-monuments/the-painteddesert) and connect to Hwy 64 entering into the eastern end of the Canyon at Desert View. Start the tour by climbing the three-story Watchtower, built in 1932 and designed by the region’s very famous architect, Mary Jane Coulter. Move onto the next four viewing spots before reaching Shoshone Point, a little known “park and walk” viewing site that offers one of the most dramatic views on the Canyon Rim and is used for small weddings in Summer. Picnic tables line the rim here so enjoy the view and no crowds, it doesn’t get any more scenic. Skip the Visitor’s Center at Mather Point and head to Yavapai Point (www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/yavapai-geo.htm) where the Visitor Center there explains the Grand Canyon geology with a stunning view of the 5,000-foot drop into the Canyon’s depths. Avoid the Grand Canyon Village and head back to Flagstaff on Hwy 180 passing through the lush Coconino National Forest (www.fs.usda.gov/main/coconino), home to the largest stand of ponderosa pines in the world. Enjoy dinner at Brix Restaurant & Wine Bar (www.brixflagstaff.com) before having an after-dinner drink at the inn’s complimentary bar. After breakfast on Sunday morning head over to the nearby Flagstaff Farmer’s Market that features locally grown foods, and arts and crafts. Then, perhaps, take in a tour of the Riordan Mansion (azstateparks.com/riordan-mansion) before leaving town.
Where are the best places to truly enjoy nature?
At 7,000 feet elevation Flagstaff sits at the base of the San Francisco Peaks where the Arizona Snowbowl ski area (www.snowbowl.ski) offers year-round recreation for hiking, skiing, and summertime riding the Agassiz Skyride chairlift to 11,500 feet enjoying views of Northern Arizona all the way to the Grand Canyon (www.nps.gov/grca). The San Francisco Peaks were formed by a collapsed 16,000-foot volcano, and Mount Humphreys at 12,600 feet is the highest peak in the entire State and offers an all-day hike to the top. Other, gentler trails in the peaks include the Kachina Trail and the Aspen Loop Trail. Lockett Meadow, located in the heart of the volcano offers an unparalleled hike through thick aspen groves and flower-filled meadows. Elk and deer abound in Flagstaff’s surrounding forests. All-day hiking trips in the Grand Canyon, including the Bright Angel and South Kaibab trails, allow visitors to experience the majesty of the Park.
What is your favorite time of the year in Flagstaff and why?
Winter is my favorite time of the year. I still ski and the packed powder at Arizona Snowbowl affords me many enjoyable afternoon getaways from work. It is also my favorite time of year to visit the Grand Canyon since the crowds are down, the air is at its cleanest, and you can drive the entire South Rim from Desert View in the east to Hermit’s Rest in the West. The snow-covered rim makes for some dramatic winter scenery. For an easy winter outing try snow shoeing, it’s inexpensive and gentle on your legs.
What’s one souvenir to bring back for friends or family?
Route 66 is one of the icons of this area so anything with the Route 66 logo on it is always popular; hats, coffee mugs, and even shot glasses.
Please finish the sentence: Don’t leave Flagstaff without…
Visiting the Grand Canyon and all of our National Monuments.