GROTON — A loyal customer base and an attractive local venue have its owners confident that the Groton Stagecoach Inn can not only weather the current economic slowdown, but turn it to their advantage by offering affordable lodgings and expanded meal times.
“We don’t really have a high profile in town yet, but we do have some very loyal fans who have tasted our food and love it,” manager Vicki Carson said. “This is a priceless setting in terms of history, architecture and location. With its multiple fireplaces, three dining rooms and other nooks and crannies, it is just a perfect venue.”
The Inn has hired a trio of new chefs, including one who has worked at the Fruitlands, to make sure that meals are memorable while also expanding the bar menu and upgrading the music program.
“We also plan on retaining all of the local musicians that we’ve been featuring, while also acting to bring in bands that may be a little harder to get,” Carson continued. “Also, we have recently launched a singles night on Thursday evenings.”
One of the most sensitive buildings in the town’s historic district, the Groton Stagecoach Inn began life as a residence sometime before 1760 and was enlarged upon by successive owners, including the Rev. Samuel Dana, who lived there in the late 1700s. The Main Street property was later transformed into an inn upon its purchase by Jonathan Keep, in 1780.
One of the oldest operating taverns in the country, the Inn eventually fell on hard times. It was purchased in 1977 by master chef George Pergantis, who renovated the old building and restored much of its antique, colonial glory, making it again a popular destination for many out-of-town visitors.
The establishment itself actually comes in two parts: The main building, with its overnight accommodations, can serve up to 50 diners in its three dining rooms and a Carriage House annex that can host over 200 people with room, left over for dancing.
In fact, management has focused much of its attention on the Carriage House over the past months, with an eye to making it the premiere spot in town for those seeking an affordable venue for wedding receptions.
“We are continually renovating our buildings and currently are implementing some green policies for overnight stays, to help save energy,” Carson said. “The view out the back of Gibbet Hill is really impressive and in warmer weather, guests can play croquet out on the lawn. Indoors, there is excellent acoustics for music.”
Those interested in holding their reception at the Carriage House will also have the option of having their wedding cakes designed and baked on the premises. The cakes are baked fresh by the owner’s son, John Pergantis, an award-winning baker.
With all the attention given to the Carriage House, the main building at the Inn has not been ignored.
“Our former Fruitlands chef is in charge of the Inn’s new breakfast and lunch menus and is doing everything from scratch, with no shortcuts,” Carson noted. “Everything is homemade.”
In addition to the new breakfast and lunch menus, the Inn’s old standbys of fine Greek meals and its famous seafood dishes and steak dinners have not been forgotten.
“We’ve found that many of our repeat guests will make special trips to come to the Inn,” Carson said. “In fact, they sometimes come quite a distance to eat here. Right now, there’s a lot of competition with other restaurants in Groton and, frankly, the Stagecoach Inn could have a higher profile. That said, we do have a loyal fans within and outside of town.”
Affordable overnight accommodations are available among the building’s 17 rooms, each with private bath, Internet hookup, complimentary breakfast and mid-morning tea and biscuits.
“We have seen some changes in the past few months,” Carson said, noting the sluggish economy. “Diners have been a little slow but the economy hasn’t affected our overnight accommodations. I’m guessing that’s because we are so affordable.”
The launch of its own Web site has helped to maintain awareness of the Inn as a destination place, but word of mouth from past guests has done its part, too. Many stayed at the Inn while visiting students attending local schools.
The Inn is open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday for lunch and breakfast and Wednesday to Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. for dinner. On Sundays, lunch and dinner are served from noon to 8 p.m.
For more information, visit the Inn online at GrotonStagecoachInn.com.