BRATTLEBORO — The Covered Bridge Inn closed after all the guests checked out of their rooms on Memorial Day due to a shortage of staff.
“We need a minimum of 10 people to run the property and we were down to three,” said Dustin Bulley, co-owner of the inn. “So we just couldn’t keep the doors open anymore.”
Bulley said businesses nationwide are experiencing challenges in staffing.
“I think it’s hurting the hospitality sector really hard because everyone was laid off for so long in the hospitality sector,” he said. “We were trying to get people back but a lot of people have found other opportunities.”
Bulley said he believes the staffing issue is especially difficult in southern Vermont, where housing affordability is a big challenge.
The intent is to reopen the Putney Road inn. Although, there have been efforts aimed at converting the inn into housing units.
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An application to the Brattleboro Development Review Board was withdrawn.
“We basically got to a point where we know the project could get approved but a substantial amount of money needs to be spent before the DRB would approve,” Bulley said, citing costs for site and floor plans. “I wouldn’t say it’s off the table. We’ve had other entities who want to do it and we’d definitely be willing to do it.”
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Bulley said funding was being sought by a couple of groups for the project, which was named in the governor’s proposal for federal American Rescue Plan Act funds, but the property was never put under contract or purchased. M&S Development of Brattleboro is one group trying to help figure it out.
“I think we all had high hopes when the budget got passed and all the additional money was put into housing,” Bulley said, “but that’s going to be more difficult to achieve then I thought it was going to be.”
The inn is in need of employees to handle the front desk and housekeeping. Those who are interested can leave a message at the inn at 802-254-8889.
For now, Bulley is only committed to being closed for June. He said the inn could reopen as soon as July 1.
“And in the meantime, if something happens with M&S trying to work on something, maybe we remain closed,” he said.