Imagine running a historic inn filled with tales of the past, elegant décor, ghost stories, and always a friendly new guest to chat with. This is the day-to-day life of, Katelyn Yarbrough, Inn Keeper at the Historic Eureka Inn along with her husband, Blake.
Katelyn Yarbrough grew up the oldest of three, quickly learning what it meant to care for others. Her father was a school teacher and a religious believer who was known to walk by faith, not by sight. And her mother was a hard-working nurse who wasn’t afraid of questioning the hard things. “I learned the most from my mom,” Katelyn says with a smile.
“Don’t sit idly waiting for a miracle to happen, sometimes you have to realize you are that miracle.”
It’s easy to see the curious mind Katelyn gets from her mother but also the deep thinking and the religious and theological knowledge from her dad. “I have a very firm and strong relationship with God, but that’s my personal relationship and I don’t need to put that out and show that off for anyone,” Katelyn Says. “It’s for me and my salvation— If I’m feeling good in that arena that’s good enough for me, and that should be good enough for everyone else.” While a pre-dental Chemistry major at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Katelyn got a job at the Mellow Mushroom. When her mother found out Katelyn had stopped going to class to work she snatched her back to East Tennessee. After Katelyn’s return, her fiery passion and drive hadn’t burnt out. Soon, she found herself as the General Manager for an up and coming restaurant. At the young age of 23 Katelyn was filling big shoes while also balancing the personalities of 3 male owners. With so many obstacles in place, Katelyn deemed this as the time in her life when she experienced the most growth. She was always persevering to take care of her younger brothers but to also climb the ladder in the industry she loved. “I worked all the time,” Katelyn says. “I got into the rut of being a robot work-lady and always looking out for everyone else.” Katelyn took a page from the playbook of her father with what she did next. “This is an example where I did step out on faith. I quit my job and Blake and I traveled for a year.” Katelyn says. “Eventually, money started running out so we came back and I started working at the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre and Blake was working here, at the Eureka, for the old Innkeeper, Maria. Soon, we started keeping a journal of what we would do if we were the Inn Keepers and how great it would be to have our own venue.” Sometime later Blake had a dream that the two of them would one day run the Inn. Just a week later the couple received a call from Dr. Kennedy, owner of the Historic Eureka Inn. “He called us to ask if we were interested in the Innkeeping job,” Katelyn says with a laugh as if she still can’t believe it. “It was all very serendipitous! If I hadn’t quit my job, if I hadn’t looked out for myself, I wouldn’t be where I am today. That growth of taking a break and nourishing myself was so imperative.” Through this wild ride, Katelyn never ceased to ask the hard questions just as her mom did and when at her breaking point she had enough of her dad in her to take that scary leap of faith. “I like to think I am very much on the right path and things happen for a reason. It’s possible to find yourself in the right place at the right time— and that happens to me a lot.” Katelyn says. “Because I put my little oxygen mask on first, in return I was able to save my brothers- I’ve hired both of them and helped them to grow and learn. That one decision of leaving was very hard for me, but that was the biggest step on this journey I’m still on.”