East Brother Light Station gets new innkeepers
Kelly Zito, Chronicle Staff Writer
Frederic Larson / The Chronicle
A woman and her son enjoy the island's main courtyard in 2008. The island has a five-room hotel and lighthouse.
If you've always dreamed of living on a tiny island, or running a bed and breakfast - or both at the same time - you're out of luck.
At least for a couple of years.
One of the Bay Area's most unusual job openings has been filled. The nonprofit outfit that runs the East Brother Light Station in San Pablo Bay said Thursday that it's found new innkeepers for the five-room hotel and lighthouse that dates back to 1874.
San Francisco native Peter Berkhout and Dina Kashou of Milwaukee, both 31, will take over on Dec. 1 when current proprietors Ed and Anne Witts depart.
The couple will begin training next month for the notoriously grueling job after they finish a stint on the HMS Bounty, a 1962 replica of the ship involved in the infamous 1789 mutiny. Berkhout is first mate and engineer; Kashou is the chef.
In addition to cooking for guests four nights a week and maintaining the hotel, the innkeepers must also keep track of paperwork, ferry visitors back and forth to the one-acre island and travel ashore for food and other supplies. Guests pay $295 to $415 a night for a gourmet breakfast, four-course dinner and the ferry service. The innkeepers live in a one-bedroom cottage and earn $60,000 to $100,000 a year per couple.
The turnover rate for the East Brother Island job is high. On average, most innkeepers stay for about two years before burning out, according to Tom Butt, president of the East Brother Light Station board, which runs the Coast Guard-owned isle.
Berkhout isn't daunted. Yet.
"We're coming from a work situation in which we're used to having only one day off a week," Berkhout said. "Not having guests for three days a week should give us plenty of time."
E-mail Kelly Zito at email@example.com.
This article appeared on page D - 10 of the San Francisco Chronicle
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