Meet Tim Karu and Jacob Krueger, the owners and inn keepers of The Mercury Inn - Modern Sustainable Lodging, located in Portland, Maine. They purchased the historic Victorian home that was formerly known as the Wild Iris Inn, in October of 2013. After running it for six weeks they decided to re-brand the Inn to better reflect their personalities and passions. They have done an amazing job with creating the Mercury Inn which is committed to environmental and economic sustainability and is a Green Certified Inn. The Inn is named after Mercury, a deity from ancient Roman mythology who among many things, was a protector and guide to travelers.
Their backgrounds weren't in hospitality, but Tim and Jacob were looking for a way to be able to work together, and to do something they were passionate about. They love home improvement projects and are both very passionate about the Portland, Maine food scene, as well as sustainable business practices. It would appear that inn keeping was a natural fit for them. They love being able to share their menu with guests and to also suggest other places and activities around town. Even though they are somewhat new to the inn keeping business, they seem to have a real handle on creating a spectacular guest experience.
During the renovations they tried to keep the integrity of the original Victorian style, but wanted to modernize it. When creating the Mercury Inn, they also decided to exercise good environmental practices. Some of the things they did to reduce their carbon footprint: sourced vintage and locally made furniture for all the guest rooms and common areas, replaced all the light fixtures with low-energy LED bulbs, re-painted the interior using Mythic Non-Toxic Zero VOC paint, they recycle and compost everything possible, and provide soaps made from natural, plant-based ingredients in reusable dispensers. They also work primarily with local farms to source their ingredients.
The breakfast menu at the Mercury Inn, is seasonally-based and made from locally-sourced ingredients. It is very important to Tim and Jacob to be able to work with local farms to ensure the quality of the food that they serve to their guests. Being dependent on what ingredients are in season, they also practice food preservation techniques such as canning and also use a root cellar so they can serve local produce year round. They do a buffet-style breakfast every morning that includes a large spread of selections. It includes egg dishes such as cheddar and chive mini quiche's, and frittatas. It can also include homemade granola, baked goods, fresh fruit, and yogurt served in mason jars mixed with Maine Maple Syrup, honey, or even a blueberry compote.
Tim does most of the cooking at the Inn, however his husband Jacob, and their assistant inn keeper Hank, also help out in the kitchen. Tim's mother, who is known for her exceptional cooking and hospitality, is his main inspiration. He grew up watching her cook and at an early age learned to appreciate well-prepared food. The culinary passion seems to run in his family as his uncle was also a chef at a well-known restaurant in New England. Tim said that creating the menu with seasonal ingredients can be challenging, but it's the "good kind" of challenge that he has come to really enjoy. He uses some of his mother's recipes, but enjoys finding new ones to get a base to start from, and then to add his own variations to them.
If you are traveling to Portland and would like to have a delicious locally-sourced breakfast, and be hosted by two extremely dedicated and environmentally conscious people, the Mercury Inn is a fine choice.
The Mercury Inn
273 State Street
Portland, Maine 04101
+1 (207) 956-6670 or +1 (844) 730-7800