Having a blast bringing back the past: Couple has big plans for Brunswick's Daniel Stone Inn
BRUNSWICK — The second most striking aspect of Kim and John Verreault's renovation of the nearly 200-year-old Captain Daniel Stone Inn is how much work they have to do.
The most striking aspect? How much they have to work with.
From the intricate moldings and distinct fireplaces of the original 1800s building, to the open-yet-cozy dining area with adjoining stone patio, the former jewel of Brunswick still sparkles amid dust, ripped-out carpets and gutted fixtures.
And, if the Verreaults have their way, such features will be restored through an estimated $1.4 million effort they hope will not only honor the inn's glorious past, but turn a profit.
Even now, with toilets and sinks in the parking lot, the din of hammering and piled furniture, it's not difficult to see why the Verreaults bid on the property at a public auction last winter. The inn closed in November shortly after its former owner, Augustine Lett, halted operations in the once-popular restaurant.
The Verreaults, a Saco couple who have embarked on at least three other hotel projects in the Old Orchard Beach area, acquired the property in May. They have since vowed to capture the 34-room inn's history in its rebirth.
"We could tell right away that the community has a lot of pride in this building," Kim said. "Our goal is to make it a cornerstone once again."
"All of us really want people to say this place feels historical," she added. "We want them asking us questions about its history. It's important."
John said the goal was to create a restaurant that would appeal to Brunswick's broad demographic, from Bowdoin College parents and faculty, to locals and retirees.
"We want to be upscale without being pretentious," John said.
While some features are still in the works, the Verreaults are making some changes. For one, they'll be converting four rooms in the 1980s expansion area into a day spa.
The kitchen and restaurant will get a makeover, too. The Verreaults plan to install an exhibition-style kitchen where diners can watch chefs prepare their meals.
The menu isn't settled yet, but the Verreaults recently hired John Smigielski, formerly of the Newagen Seaside Inn in Southport, as the food and beverage director. Smigielski said the plan is to incorporate local, organic ingredients in a menu he hoped would strike a balance between favorite classics and contemporary tastes.
"We want to bring in good American bounty," Smigielski said. "I don't want to simply unload the Sysco truck and go from there. That's not to say we won't be using Sysco products, but our focus will be on fresh, healthy, local ingredients."
Smigielski added that the restaurant will go out of its way to accommodate local customers, even when the inn is hosting lucrative wedding functions.
"We don't want to stick a leaflet in the parking lot saying the restaurant is closed for a special event," he said. "It's important for people to know that they can get a good meal here every day of the week."
Kim, meanwhile, finds herself brushing up on the inn's history. Her enthusiasm for the latter has led to her plans to name each room after a local, historical figure.
"This place already has so much character," she said. "Now it's time to put our own signature on it."
The Verreaults still have a lot of work to do. They hope to open before Christmas.
"It's more fun than daunting," Kim said.