Would you give up a spot in a law firm to run a bed and breakfast in Door County? YOLO, right?


August 4, 2017

Collin and Sara Doherty opened the Roots Inn & Kitchen bed and breakfast in Sister Bay last year.
Submitted photo

Many people consider a career change at some point in their life, but not all follow through with it like Collin Doherty.

Doherty said his family wasn’t surprised when he told them he’d be leaving his father’s law firm to open a bed and breakfast with his wife, Sara.

“I’ve never been afraid to try new things,” Doherty said about the leap of faith it took to leave a successful career and start his own business.

 “I’ve never been afraid to try something different.”
– Collin Doherty, who left a position with a West Bend law firm to open a bed and breakfast in Sister Bay.

He’s always been the adventurous type. After graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in physiology, he backpacked through Europe and Asia, lived as a ski bum in Colorado and taught English in South Korea, all before deciding to go to law school.

Although he didn’t know it at the time, it was his time abroad that would ultimately lead to his choice to change careers.

Doherty pursued his legal education at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, finishing in the top 3 percent of his class, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in Madison. He’d done so well academically that becoming a lawyer — like his father and brother — was the conventional route.

Living abroad, however, had given him a unique perspective. He didn’t want a job that he considered stressful and all-consuming, he wanted more time to travel.

“You’re totally thrown into a world that is unfamiliar,” said Doherty.

In order to continue learning about different cultures and languages, as well as meeting people from different backgrounds than his own he, and Sara, decided a bed and breakfast would allow them to meet people and talk with them about their travels.

After three years working as an attorney, and his wife as an addiction counselor, they both left their careers to open their business in Door County. They found the perfect bed and breakfast for sale, and they now spend their days cooking for their 12 guests and giving them a hand with their travel plans.

The immediate success of the B& B was perhaps a sign that the couple made the right choice, and it has also allowed them to open up another rental property — a log cabin built in 1900, in addition to a new restaurant attached to their bed and breakfast, Roots Inn & Kitchen.

Doherty said being an adventurous person is in his nature, but having Sara by his side has always given him that extra push.

The last 14 months have kept them busy, but as the old cliché promises, it doesn’t feel like work to them.

Now, they have the opportunity to make other people happy in an atmosphere that is suited to their personalities.

“Making other people comfortable, making other people enjoy their lives,” is what Doherty said drives him. He knew his career as an attorney allowed him to help people, but now he can help people and live a life he finds less demanding.

Doherty wants to lead by example. He said it’s never too late to change the path you’re on.

“So many people think you have to go the traditional way, you don’t,” said Doherty. “Sure you can start that way, but never be afraid to try something new.”

He plans to run the B& B for years to come. In turn he can meet travelers coming to Door County, and in time it might even allow him to travel more. His next goal: to travel to a new country every month.