J&W's owners add innkeepers to job title in taking over lodge

Most will recognize Joshua and Clarissa Young as the owners and operators of the popular lunchtime spot J&W's Fast Food. Now the couple are tackling another business: Innkeepers.

Most will recognize the inn they are keeping as the Sourdough Lodge at 1104 Peninsula St. Under their ownership, the lodge is being renamed the Cedar House Inn.

The 15,000-square-foot building has been in the Harding family since it was built by Lloyd Harding and his sons in 1984. It's now owned by Bruce and Darlene Harding, who ran the lodge from 1990 to 2017. Since then, it has been an assisted-living facility and was leased by the borough from June of 2020 until the end of 2021 in case it was needed for pandemic isolation housing.

It was put on the market and the Hardings had it listed at $750,000.

"We going to run it for 12 months and see if it's something that we can make work," Joshua said. "Bruce and Darlene have been amazing with us and have given us an opportunity to really get our feet wet without having to solely commit to the purchase price."

The Youngs are looking to open lodging to the public by July 1 to take advantage of the remainder of the tourist season, though they will only operate with eight to 10 of the 18 rooms available. They will also serve breakfast seven days a week and set up 10 tables in the large room.

If there's an increase in demand, the Youngs will expand the number of rooms and tables, which will also depend on being able to staff the business. "We just don't want to take on more than our staff can handle and be able to provide the best service possible," Joshua said. "That's the key."

Family and friends will be helping to start out, which will include preparing the Cedar House Inn to receive guests. The Youngs said they will be putting in full days to set up rooms, clean and prepare and get management software in place. They are hoping to have online booking available this week.

The couple plans to make some modern updates such as electronic keylocks on guestrooms, but they want to keep the homey feel of the building. They see it as a place where community members can gather for breakfast, have coffee or just socialize.

The inn is a new commitment for the Youngs, but it has a special place in their lives.

"This is where we had our wedding," Clarissa said. "We got married in Germany, and then a year later, we came back and had a ceremony here for our families. We got married here in August of 2005."

Finding guests won't be a problem, the Youngs said, as they've had people reaching out.

"A representative from the hospital has already contacted us, so there's a possibility of long-term apartments, but we'll see where demand takes us," Joshua said.

Bruce Harding is confident the Youngs will be able to run the inn, and he and Darlene are offering their advice where possible.

"They have some ideas, I just had to finesse them a little bit," Harding said. "We didn't get too nervous about not selling it because the building is too good to go to waste."

The Youngs also want patrons of J&W's to know they have no intention of shutting down the business. As new staff comes on and gets trained, they said they might consider expanding their hours of operation at J&W's. If their plan works out, the restaurant and the inn will both be theirs.

"If all goes well, we'll be the owners of (the inn building) around April," Joshua said. "At the end of the day, it's just got to pay for itself."

 

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