|By Alan Wechsler, Albany Times Union,
N.Y.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Aug. 1, 2007 - CAMBRIDGE -- They're not serving pie a la mode just yet, but the venerated Cambridge Hotel is open for business once again.
About 18 months ago, a bank foreclosed on the three-story, 120-year-old inn. Now, a group of seven investors has spent more than $1 million to get the business up and running. The 17-room hotel has been open weekends for nearly a month, and will be open all week later this August. A restaurant will open this week.
With rooms now at a discounted $99 per night as refurbishments continue, the hotel has seen occupancy at up to 90 percent, said General Manager Brian McMorland.
"It's just a great old building," McMorland said. "It's such a mainstay in town."
Until a few months ago, the future of this hotel -- supposedly the place where pie a la mode was first concocted -- was very much in doubt.
The hotel was built in 1885, at a time when Cambridge was the center of commerce in rural Washington County. The building, with its white paint and Roman columns, offered a grand welcome to those who stepped off the train at the station across the street.
But over the decades, the hotel began to show its age. By the late 1990s, the last owner sold all the hotel's assets and then closed it down. It was eventually foreclosed on.
In 1999, about 130 individual investors raised $500,000 to get the hotel up and running again. The investors always hoped a buyer would be interested. But none was, and in 2005 the building was foreclosed on by the Glens Falls National Bank and Trust Co.
Now, the seven investors -- including McMorland -- have chipped in to buy the building for $565,000 and plan to match that in improvements. The team includes John Imhof, a local attorney, with his wife Christine; real estate investor Phil Norman and his wife Heather; and Imhof's parents, Lou and Carol Imhof. All live in the Cambridge area.
Imhof said this time around they plan to make the hotel more welcoming to Washington County residents.
"There was a perception before that we weren't catering to the local people," said Imhof, who had invested in the hotel during its earlier incarnation. "That was not our intent, but that's what happened."
Now, the hotel has hired a new chef, Jason Evans, and will operate two restaurants, a moderately-priced bistro and a fine dining establishment that will offer four-course fixed-price meals. Next year, the investors also plan to turn a 6,000-square-foot bowling alley next door into a pub and a catering hall for up to 250 people.
The hotel now has 17 rooms, but the owners also plan to refurbish the third floor, adding 15 more rooms. Rooms will cost $140 to $185 a night. Address: 4 Main St, Cambridge, NY 12816.
The extra rooms will allow the hotel to accommodate larger parties, such as bus tours and wedding events.
Alan Wechsler can be reached at 454-5469 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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