The White House Inn is ready for summer

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WILMINGTON — The White House Inn's back in action.

"The White House is one of our off-mountain properties," said Matthew St. Pierre, director of restaurant operations for the Hermitage Club. "It's our jewel on the hill."

Starting Friday, the restaurant will reopen to the public. Sunday brunches, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., are set to begin this weekend too.

Brunch will be served a la carte with live music. Eggs Benedict, egg sandwiches, stuffed challah bread french toast, Belgian waffles, yogurt parfait, smoked trout, salads and fried chicken are some of the selections.

A sushi bar will be set up for the summer. Burgers, a big part of the menu, are sold at prices between $12 and $15.

The Hermitage Club announced its acquisition of the inn in June 2015. The business reopened in January under the company after various renovations were completed.

Executive chief Chris Bonnivier said the inn was sited to be a farm-to-table property last year. He spent the last few weeks visiting local farms such as Boyd Family Farm and Adams Farm, both in Wilmington, and Jersey Girls Dairy Farm and Ephraim Mountain Farm.

"Farm to table is such a cliche statement, if you will. It's a practice I've been in for my career for the extent of 35 years. I'm from Berkshire County (Massachusetts). It's important that this property and all the properties are sustainable," said Bonnivier. "It's important we're giving back the community. You put great product in, you put great product out."

St. Pierre showed the Reformer a space for wedding nuptials in the backyard, saying the finishing touches were being put on landscaping. A 40-by-50 foot vegetable garden will help sustain the kitchen through the summer, he said, and all the meat products are smoked onsite.

The living room will be set up as the main dining room in a redesign of the space.

"We will keep the integrity of the original dining room," said St. Pierre.

Some plans for additional growth are in the works. Keeping the inn's historic nature is one of the main goals for the company.

"The property is still evolving for us but the template is here," said St. Pierre, hopeful that Starbucks coffee products will soon be sold there. "The area is lacking in coffee."

Movie nights using an inflatable movie screen are being scheduled. And sledding during the winter will return to the hill outside the inn.

Mrs. Brown, the original owner of the property, is said to still be seen sometimes walking around the property. According to St. Pierre, her ghost has been sighted by both staff and guests.

"They catch a glimpse of someone turning a corner," he said. "But the energy is friendly."

A room upstairs previously belonging to Mrs. Brown is rented at a slightly higher price than others. But it's not just because of the lore. The unit overlooks the Deerfield Valley and downtown Wilmington.

Altogether, 23 guestrooms are available. And there's a secret stairwell that has sparked some ideas for future plans but nothing concrete just yet.

"It will be integrated into the flow of the building and business as well," said St. Pierre.

Brendan A. McGrail, director of communications at the Hermitage Club, said members would be returning for Memorial Day activities planned by the company, which runs a private ski resort at Haystack Mountain, the Deerfield Valley Airport and a golf course open to the public Monday through Friday. Restaurants at the golf course, Hermitage Inn, and Piacenza's at the Inn at Sawmill Farm are also open to the public. A restaurant at the clubhouse and eateries on Haystack are for members only.

The Hermitage Inn has options for fine dining or tavern food. Build-your-own selections will give customers a chance to mix ingredients for macaroni and cheese, burgers and pasta. The restaurant will be open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, but it will close until June 17. Then tavern food will be available seven days a week with fine dining on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Piacenza's operations will start up again on June 17. Food will be served Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

"Piacenza's is going to be identifiable," said Bonnivier, adding that the Italian menu has been remade into a more Americanized and affordable one.

Contact Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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