BELFAST — The owners of the Whale’s Tooth Pub in Lincolnville have purchased the former Belfast Breeze Inn to offer affordable lodging for their employees and others employed or recruited to work in the local hospitality industry.

Chris and Martha Nickerson renamed the property The Northport Inn & Lodge, as it is located on Northport Avenue (Route 1), just a half-mile into Belfast.

The Lodge is now open for business, and is accepting tenants seeking year-round housing, as well as short-term and extended stay.

The property is located on five acres atop a hill with views of the Penobscot Bay. It is close to downtown Belfast, restaurants, food shopping, eateries, gas stations and a laundromat.

The Inn was built in 1901 as the home by George R. Williamson of New York, formerly general auditor, Postal Telegraph Co. It offers five nicely appointed rooms with private bathrooms, Martha said. The Lodge has 14 rooms and was added to the property in the 1980s.

The Nickersons bought The Whale’s Tooth Pub in January from the previous owners, who had opened and operated the Lincolnville establishment for 25 years.

The couple both have backgrounds related to the hospitality industry. Chris worked as head of human resources for a large commercial restaurant design and supply company, and has a background in property management. Martha’s family owned a pizzeria restaurant, where she worked before going on to a career in the event industry.

As new restaurant owners, they faced a myriad of COVID-19 challenges. One challenge that has lingered is finding motivated workers to join their team, Chris explained. “The prolonged government subsidies have incentivized applicants nationwide to remain out of the labor force, and to make matters more difficult, there is little housing inventory in the Midcoast and rents are often cost-prohibitive for culinary talent,” he said.

The purchase of The Northport Inn & Lodge has helped turn this situation around to a positive for the Whale’s Tooth Pub.

The Whale’s Tooth recently hired an experienced line cook from out of town because affordable housing is offered as part of the job package, Chris said. “This strategy builds good will with employees, is a powerful retention tool, and helps ensure business continuity year-round and for the long-term.  It’s also good for the local business economy.”

They also can help other employers in food and hospitality and other businesses offer the same to their employees and recruits. The Nickersons call it “businesses helping businesses.”

In addition to the practical benefits of affordable housing in the Lodge, beginning in 2022 the Nickersons hope to offer interesting packages that span their two food and lodging properties. These include private culinary events and occupancy in the Inn, for on-land as well as boating guests wishing to stay on the Whale’s Tooth Pub’s moorings.

For information about availability and rates call The Northport Inn & Lodge office at 218-1129.