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Doug Bowman remembers the day he and wife Jenny bought The Red Rocker Inn, the sumptuous bed and breakfast inn on North Dougherty Street in Black Mountain.

They’d made the plunge after having spent 24 years running a church camp in southwest Indiana. Dealing with teens over the years, handling just about any kind of situation imaginable, they were in a good place to start running an inn. And yet, with a last-minute dash to Raleigh to pick up the beer and wine license and guests waiting to check in, Feb. 1, 2007 – 10 years ago this month – was “exhilarating and scary,” Doug Bowman recalled recently.

Winner of Southern Living magazine’s Readers Choice awards three years running, the Red Rocker Inn stays busy year-round (except in January, when it’s closed and the Bowmans take a few weeks off). It has 17 bedrooms, all with private bath.

“Constant repairs and maintenance and promotion,” Bowman said. “But it’s nice working with adults, as opposed to all teenagers.”

The Bowmans have always loved inns. They’d stayed in about 15 of them around the country when they decided to make the move from camp managers to owners of a bed and breakfast. To find one, they looked online – “on any given day, there are about 1,500 for sale,” Doug said – and found this one. They’d already knew the area somewhat, having visited for conferences at The Cove, Blue Ridge Assembly and Ridgecrest. They visited in October, “fell in love” and bought the inn, moving into it in February 2007.

One of the things they love most about owning The Red Rocker Inn is meeting people from all over the world. “Here people sit in the rockers and talk for hours just about everything,” Bowman said. “And we love having a restaurant too,”

The kitchen of the 75-seat restaurant is led by the Bowman’s daughter, Kaylea Bowman, who describes the cuisine as country food with a fine dining flair (Doug calls it “Southern-inspired casual fine dining”). Sauteed trout, pot roast and rib eye steaks are guest favorites (the restaurant is open to the public). Jenny Bowman makes the desserts. Doug, the early bird of the family, makes the breakfasts.

The Bowmans love their work.

“We think it’s a great lifestyle,” Doug said. “We meet the best people. We’ve had great guests over the years. You look forward to every day.”

A 10th anniversary celebration

The Red Rocker is having an open house from 3-5 p.m. Sunday March 5. Enjoy wine and appetizers and a tour of the inn’s rooms.

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