NEWPORT NEWS — After her daughter, Rosanna, 33 was diagnosed with autism and bipolar disorder, Robin Stippich baked pastries to cope with Roxanna’s bad days.
Now at 58, Robin is the owner of the historic Huntington House: a catering business, event space and airbnb in the north end district of the city.
“It really wasn’t by choice,” Robin said. “It was sort of out of necessity.”
The Huntington House, built in 1903, is on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as a backdrop for small events and weddings, but mostly a workshop for Robin’s catering business.
Prior to buying the building, Robin and her husband, Larry, 62, operated a bakery and confectionery business out of their home, Thank Goodness It’s Home Made, which just so happens to be next door.
“The business had expanded so much, it had taken over the house,” Robin said.
They bought the foreclosed house in 2014 to adapt to the growing catering business and spent a year renovating the building, while keeping several historic elements.
A few years later, the couple decided to venture into another avenue: a bed and breakfast.
Unfortunately, the Stippich family could not get a conditional use permit to turn the Huntington House into a bed and breakfast since they had to live on the premises per city code.
After two and a half years of fighting, they gave up on their bed and breakfast endeavors last August and turned the house into an Airbnb.
In addition to hosting guests, Robin spends her time delivering food throughout the year to clients of all ages: from a 14-year-old girl’s birthday party and disabled seniors to charity galas and business events with the help of Larry and occasionally, an independent contractor.
“And my husband is stuck helping me whether he likes it or not,” Robin said. “He won’t tell you that –but he loves it.”
Their next event: The Bacchus Food & Wine Festival at the Virginia Living Museum.
This is the first time Robin has catered the museum’s fundraiser and she plans to showcase “upscale” appetizers like “Virginia’s finest” truffles and seafood appetizers to shepherd’s pie and bourbon butter bread pudding.
Even though her business started out as a chore rather than a passion, Robin said 90 percent of the time she enjoys what she does, save for the 1 percent when people don’t like her food. And she doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
“I don’t want to get too big where I lose the personal touch,” she said. “I like meeting and talking to the people that are going to be eating my food.”