Rob Friedman hopes to reopen the Beaumont Inn in Dallas Township by April, just in time for the spring wedding season, and Friedman said the timing isn‚??t a coincidence.
Friedman said he‚??s getting into the hotel business to solve a problem he‚??s encountered in the wedding business: a lack of places to stay in the Back Mountain.
Friedman, 57, of Dallas, rents out a barn on a 140-acre farm in Dallas Township as a seasonal wedding venue. Opened in 2007, Friedman Farms is fully booked for Saturday weddings during its six-month operating season through 2014.
‚??The first question I get from the people having a wedding is, where can we stay in the Back Mountain? And unfortunately there aren‚??t any hotels in the Back Mountain,‚?Ě Friedman said. ‚??And the Beaumont was a beautiful place‚?Ľ Every time I would drive by it I would say boy I‚??d love to purchase that.‚?Ě
A month ago, Friedman reached an agreement with former owners Jim and Beth Harkins to purchase the country inn on Route 309, which has been closed to the public for six years. He plans to fill the inn‚??s 10 rooms, just nine minutes from Friedman Farms by car, with wedding guests on weekends from May to November, and hopes the inn will draw guests seeking an escape to the country during other times.
‚??I really want it to be a destination,‚?Ě he said.
Friedman also wants to reopen the Inn‚??s restaurant and bar for dinner and Sunday brunch service, and is in the process of hiring a chef. He hopes it will be a return to glory days for the inn, which dates to 1949.
The Harkins family owned and operated the inn from 1988. They leased rooms to Misericordia University for student housing during the 2009-2010 school year, but otherwise the inn has been closed since 2006.
Friedman is planning extensive renovations of the hotel, though those who visited under the Harkins‚?? ownership should still recognize it, as he isn‚??t planning to change the layout or to make major structural changes. The building is structurally sound, though Friedman has had the roof replaced and will replace windows, water pipes and heating and air conditioning vents.
The hotel will get a facelift inside and out, with new furniture, fresh paint and new landscaping in front and behind the building. Friedman said his changes will preserve the traditional feel of the inn, which was previously renovated by the Harkins in 1988, but will add another level to its opulence.
‚??I really want the wow factor, when people see the inside of it and the grounds,‚?Ě Friedman said. ‚??I‚??m not just trying to repair it. I‚??m trying not just to bring it back to what it was in the past, but (to) make it much more beautiful. I hope that it‚??s really a spectacular sight when it‚??s all done.‚?Ě
Friedman declined to say how much he will spend on improvements, but said it will be ‚??a substantial amount.‚?Ě
He also plans substantial improvements for the grounds around the building, which is situated on a 58-acre property containing a stream and several open areas, including a former baseball field. He plans to add a patio to the rear of the building, and develop hiking trails and other outdoor amenities for guests.
Friedman said renovations to the inside of the building and the space available outside make it an attractive venue for smaller weddings in its own right. Friedman said the inn‚??s bar and dining area can accommodate a wedding party of 100, while the 180-foot barn at Friedman Farms can hold 200.
Opulent touches will continue in the inn‚??s restaurant, which Friedman said will be a fine dining establishment. Friedman said the restaurant‚??s menu will be largely controlled by its chef, whom Friedman hasn‚??t hired yet, but that it will probably feature steaks and roasts.
‚??The key is getting the chef,‚?Ě Friedman said. ‚??I want the food to be spectacular, so I‚??ve got to find the right chef.‚?Ě
Friedman said he is currently reviewing resumes from about 60 chefs. He has also obtained a liquor license from the Harkins‚?? for the inn‚??s bar.
It will not be Friedman‚??s first foray into the restaurant business. He has for the past 19 years owned and operated the River Street Jazz Caf√© in Wilkes-Barre, a bar and live music venue that also serves food.
Friedman and his father Sidney also work as consultants for Friedman Electric, a family business they sold in 2007. Friedman said he hopes his farm and now the Beaumont Inn will be businesses he can pass on to his own daughters, 10-year-old Diane and 8-year-old Haley.
‚??Hopefully down the road they‚??ll be interested in getting involved in the wedding business,‚?Ě he said.