Preparing to be Inn-viting: Fredonia site targets fall for grand opening

OBSERVER Photos by Braden Carmen The White Inn, located at 52 E. Main St., Fredonia, is set to re-open this fall after an extensive renovation project totaling more than $4 million.

A community staple referred to by many as the heart of Fredonia will be restored to greatness within the next few months.

The White Inn is on track to finish renovations and be operational by this fall according to multiple members of the restoration project. The good news was shared at a recent Dunkirk-Fredonia Rotary Club meeting with approximately 25 guests in attendance.

A beloved establishment in the village for over a century, the White Inn has sat vacant since 2017. Then, Devin Jones and Steve St. George bought the White Inn from a lending company after a foreclosure with plans to restore it. Jones has extensive experience in the food service industry as a successful chef, most notably at Fred’s in downtown Fredonia. St. George owns and operates S. St. George Enterprises, one of the area’s leaders in the construction and infrastructure space.

The Village of Fredonia’s iconic hotel, bar, restaurant and banquet site has undergone substantial improvements in recent months. Jarrod Mills came on as the Project Manager in September 2022, and approximately six months ago, Brittany Ludemann and Morgan St. George were brought on as Interior Designers.

“We’re trying to show the beauty of the White Inn to younger generations to help them appreciate it as one of the Fredonia staples,” said Morgan St. George.

Jarrod Mills, Project Manager, has been working on the restoration of the White Inn since September of 2022.

The goal of the project, as Mills described it, is to bring guests the modern amenities of a high-end stay, while preserving the old charm that the White Inn became known for over more than a century.

The new White Inn will feature 25 renovated guest rooms, plus a board room. All rooms will be non-smoking, with select rooms pet friendly. Ludemann described the rooms as “traditional style with a little bit of modern.”

The major renovation project focused on local companies and workers to restore the historic building. Steve St. George pushed for local companies to be used whenever possible, with the majority of 30 companies and 150 workers being locally sourced.

Steve St. George told Mills, “This is our building in our community. We want to use our community as much as we can.”

A sign will be constructed to highlight all of the companies that contributed to the restoration of the White Inn. “We really want to be able to show the community that we’re keeping this local. We’re really excited that all these local companies are willing to help us to restore this building,” Ludemann said.

Morgan St. George, Interior Designer, called the White Inn “one of the Fredonia staples.”

More than $4 million has already been invested in the project, with plenty more to come as new additions to the project continue to be tacked on. The venue is eyeing a gazebo on site to accommodate outdoor weddings at some point down the line, while an all new seating area is being designed on the west end of the building for guests to enjoy on nice days. Rocking chairs will be stationed out front of the Inn, as well.

Over the course of the renovations, the design team has been overwhelmed by the community’s enthusiasm for the project.

“We have so many people that want to stop and chat with us about it,” Ludemann said, noting a family traveled from out of state to provide original items from the White Inn to be displayed in the renovated building. Original pictures from the walls of the White Inn were also preserved and will be hung on the walls again.

Although the old wallpaper was taken down and new drywall was installed, some of the antique furniture is set to be restored. Heating and cooling systems have also been installed throughout all the public spaces.

Many aspects of the old White Inn were “completely gutted”, including the bathrooms and the elevator. A new ADA-compliant elevator was installed. The extensive renovation project was done meticulously to avoid any major repairs or changes in the coming years.

Ludemann joked the easiest decision throughout the process was picking the outside color of the building. Mills, however, described that even with that, the designers went through four different designs before the specific shade of white was selected.

The restaurant’s menu will feature both high-end and casual dining options in an effort to be more inclusive to guests of varying income levels. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner service will be offered, while a late night service menu is currently being evaluated.

“One of the things that we’ve emphasized is that everybody can feel like they can come here,” Mills said. “We wanted it to be an inclusive place. We didn’t want to price point it out so that I can’t go in there with my two kids. … If you want to get a fancy steak dinner, you can, but you can also get a cheeseburger at the bar.”

Speaking of the bar, a separate service station is also being constructed in the back for weddings and other events to avoid guests having to walk to the main bar to receive a drink.

Hiring will begin in July, from servers and hosts to various hotel staff positions all set to be filled before the fall opening. Approximately a dozen full-time employees and another dozen part-time employees will be hired, with a full list of available positions to be released soon.

“We really appreciate the enthusiasm of the community,” Morgan St. George said. “We’re excited.”


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