The Inn at Taughannock, a cozy Victorian style inn and restaurant situated on the west side of Cayuga Lake, celebrated its 70th birthday in May. The inn will undergo renovations after this Thanksgiving, according to Brian Simon ’04, the inn’s general manager.
“The Inn at Taughannock will close for the season the day after Thanksgiving to commence another round of renovation, construction, expansions on the property, all part of a planned revitalization of the property,” Simon said. “We will reopen our doors in the spring and have refreshed guest quarters for the public to enjoy.”
The renovations will include refurbishing the interiors of the guest rooms, expanding the current restaurant space and constructing outdoor seating, according to Simon.
Although the inn is being refurbished, its tradition and charm will be preserved, according to Simon.
“We all know, change is a constant, and most times in life its for the better,” he said. “Even though we are improving and modernizing aspects of this hotel and restaurant, we have not forgotten the ongoing relationship with the local towns people, business, wineries and tourists who have been loyal to us over the decades. This is something we honor and want to serve for the next 70 years.”
Simon attributed the special atmosphere of the inn to its history.
“It’s not often that you have an opportunity to run a business so steeped in tradition, that has operated continuously for the past 70 years,” he said. “You can’t help but feel the sense of history the minute you walk through the front door. This gorgeous Victorian built in 1873, proudly sits on the top of the hill and still shines like new.”
According to Simon, the inn was originally built as a private residence by John and Molly Jones in 1873, the property remained in the Jones family until 1945 when it was sold to Maude and Merrit Agard. Upon Maude’s 40th birthday in 1945, the property was converted into Taughannock Farm Inn and Restaurant, marking the beginning of the inn’s illustrious history.
After three generations in the Agard family, the inn was sold in 1997 to Tom and Susan Sheridan, who ran the business until February of 2016, when it was transferred to TFI InvestCo, a group of investors with connections in the Ithaca area.
One of the inn’s longstanding traditions is Thanksgiving dinner, when the restaurant offers diners a classic turkey meal.
“Thanksgiving has always been a huge tradition at the Inn at Taughannock, it’s a real homecoming for many,” he said. “A sense of tradition, as we welcome people for dinner to a place they consider to be a second home.”
Simon, who became general manager this year, said he is looking forward to this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, as it is the first under his management.
Simon said he previously worked at Taughannock during his time as an undergraduate at Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration.
“I couldn’t pass up [the opportunity] to come back to Taughannock and be involved in the reinvention, to evolve this phenomenal place into a luxury boutique hotel, something the Finger Lakes desperately needs,” he said.
Simon added that having personal relationships with his guests makes them “feel like family.”
The inn continues giving to the community, as recently it hosted fireworks during the Fourth of July weekend on the property.
“It was the first time in over a decade that fireworks were shot off at Taughannock State Park,” Simon said. “Having thousands of people down in the park and having hundreds of people on boats in Cayuga lake and on the property watching the fireworks — that really made it that much more special.”
To celebrate the inn’s 70th birthday, a party was held in honor of all the employees, according to Simon.
“We want to celebrate those employees that had contributed their time and talent to build this property to what it is today,” he said. “Hospitality starts with the employees you engage, they represent the face and spirit of the establishment, as they contribute their time and talent to build this business to its fullest potential.”