By Ryan Cornell
MIDDLETOWN -- For years, George and Rebecca Reeves celebrated each Christmas with their family at the Wayside Inn. And this Thanksgiving, the Toms Brook couple will be continuing their tradition as new owners of the Middletown landmark.
Rebecca Reeves said about 40 of their relatives and friends will spend the Thanksgiving holiday with them at the inn, which will serve as an opportunity to test the plumbing, beds and hot water.
The two officially became owners of the Wayside Inn on Thursday after signing papers and settling on the deal. They originally purchased the inn at an Oct. 16 auction for $750,000.
They've already hit the ground running on making it presentable. The electrician is swinging by today and so will the health inspectors.
Rebecca Reeves said they plan to open the 22 rooms and start serving food from a limited tavern menu by December. Eventually, she said, the menu will be expanded.
George Reeves said Sarah Mauck, former owner of the Old Mill Restaurant, is consulting with them on the restaurant and will be helping out in the kitchen. Don Greenfield, a friend of the Reeves family, is also consulting with them.
"Wayside Inn has been part of the regional community for a long time," Greenfield said.
He said he's going to work on making the Wayside Inn more accessible to visitors by establishing a stronger presence in social media and on Internet review sites such as TripAdvisor.
"We're seeing a lot of excitement about the Wayside Inn," he said. "Everyone has a story about their involvement with the inn."
The Inn will host an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 15. Rebecca Reeves said the inn will have live music, food, Christmas decorations and tours that people can take of the rooms and behind-the-scenes areas.
George Reeves removed a sign from the front door that read "Wayside Inn Restaurant is temporarily closed." He said he wouldn't have imagined owning the inn, "never in a million years."
He said he hoped to possibly turn one of the rooms, a corner lounge enclosed by windows with an entrance leading outside, into a bakery.
"People can slip in, get their cup of coffee and Danish and go," he said.
He also said he hopes to restore the inn and create a "living history" that would honor the Bernstein family. Leo Bernstein, who owned the inn prior to the Charons, had a large presence in the surrounding community.
"We really think his contributions in the 54 years need to be honored," George Reeves said.
Walking through one of the larger suites, Rebecca Reeves marveled at the extensive furniture.
"I think in five years I'll still be finding little cubbyholes and doors I didn't in the first four years," she said. "It has a lot of stories to tell."
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org