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By Peter Vankevich
Chad and Robin Macek have taken a leap and fulfilled a fantasy many visitors have when they visit Ocracoke. The Maceks are the new owners of Oscar’s House Bed and Breakfast, which reopened May 1.
“We’re just thrilled with this new adventure,” said Robin.
“We’re going to keep it the same way as much as possible, with some little tweaks,” Chad said. A major tweak is that the B&B will be open all year.
For 34 years, Ann Ehringhaus ran Oscar’s House Bed and Breakfast. From its inception, it went beyond a traditional B&B as it also served as a kind of retreat house for guests where both creative conversations and silence are equally respected.
This emanated from Ehringhaus’s diverse interests. Long fascinated with the spiritual/mystical side of life, her book about Oscar’s, “Ten Thousand Breakfasts, A Tale of Wonder” (Solaris Books 2011), chronicles her musings, spiritual journey, fascinating guests and coincidences, along with recipes.
Ann has moved to another village home and will continue to live on the island. And now the Maceks may discover the same synchronicities so well described in her book as they carry forth.
In 2012, while looking for a place to celebrate their anniversary, someone suggested Ocracoke and Oscar’s House. The Macek’s had never been on the island and debarking the Cedar Island ferry in September of that year, they both immediately saw Ocracoke as a special place, a love at first sight.
They instantly bonded with Ehringhaus. Knowing it was their anniversary, she surprised them during dinner at the Jolly Roger and asked Fiddler Dave Tweedie, who was performing with Molasses Creek, to play “Lover’s Waltz,” to which they danced to celebrate their special day.
Since then the couple made frequent visits, staying at Oscar’s, and soul searched about their futures in which the fantasy of becoming islanders figured heavily.
When Ehringhaus decided to sell, she wanted it to go to just the right people and thought of the couple.
“I think they have what it takes to make this work,” she said.
Thus began the challenge of uprooting and making the finances work.
Robin, a self-described “Army brat,” spent her youth in several locations including France and South Korea.
In a fluke, at age 9 she sang in a concert with her older brother, Dean Brown, a well-known guitarist, and his band for a South Korean gig that turned into a life-changer.
That night, Brown’s group, called Rush, was scheduled to perform at a battle of the bands in Seoul. When they arrived, they learned the competition required a female vocalist which they didn’t have.
Ready to bag it and head home, Robin piped up and said she could sing “Proud Mary.” The audience of 3,000 was ecstatic, and she became a celebrity in that country, performing to large crowds for the two years she lived there.
Returning to the States, after high school, she took up a singing career and for several years performed the club circuit, primarily in the New York/Connecticut area, with a group called First Impressions. She later worked in sales and was a personal fitness trainer and a nutritional consultant.
But Robin’s most rewarding passion is jewelry design. She has always been fascinated with beads made around the world that her parents would buy for her. During a convalescence in the late ‘90s, she started making jewelry in earnest. It became a full-time business and most of her weekends meant loading up the trunk with jewelry and heading off to shows.
One of her favorite venues has been the Ocrafolk Festival over the last several years. And now, Robin will set up a boutique of her jewelry, called YouMeUs, inside the B&B.
Chad, who grew up in Oxford and Derby, Connecticut, has always been fascinated with numbers.
After working in accounting for six years, he made a life change and moved to Colorado to be a ski instructor. From there he got interested in fitness activities and met Robin. They married in 2011.
He now works for a division of United Health Group call Optum Health as a business process consultant.
“I fix internal processes,” he said. “I’m a problem solver.” That work can be done from home, which he will continue.
Both love cooking, and they are eager to continue Oscar’s breakfast tradition.
“We love the old gas stove in the kitchen,” Chad said.
Oscar’s House, 660 Irvin Garrish Hwy., was built in 1940 by Capt. Joe Burrus, Ocracoke’s lighthouse keeper for 16 years. It is named after his son.
For information and reservations, call 252-928-1311, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.