Cathy Donnelly, co-director of the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese at the University of Vermont, has an abiding love for historic properties. But when she learned that the Lakeview Inn in Greensboro was for sale, it never occurred to her that she’d eventually own it. “I don’t think I was ever serious about buying the place, but I was interested in what would become of it,” she says.
But when a foreclosure put the property on the auction block, Donnelly started considering the proposition a bit more seriously. “There’s a lot of exciting food activity going on in the Hardwick area: Vermont Soy, Pete’s Greens, Jasper Hill. The Vermont Food Venture Center is relocating there,” Donnelly explains. “A missing piece that could help drive that even further is the Lakeview Inn. My husband and I decided to acquire it.”
Don’t try reserving a room, though. The pair think of themselves as landlords rather than innkeepers. Interns who come to Jasper Hill to learn the art of cheesemaking, for example, used to be hard up for a place to stay. Now they can rent reduced-rate rooms at The Lakeview. “We look at this as a place for short-term residential stays so people can engage in discussions about food,” Donnelly clarifies.
The space also will be available for weddings, private parties and conferences. Themed Sunday suppers are in the works, too. Down the road, Donnelly plans to draw on the networks of other Hardwick-area business to attract famous chefs to town. “There are amazing commercial kitchens. We’ll bring in guest chefs and have people stay for the weekend and learn from them,” she speculates. “Jasper Hill has been making connections to the best restaurants in the United States, and the chefs have this incredible desire to learn where food is coming from.”