Norumbega Inn will add dinner service to the public

By Susan Mustapich | Sep 18, 2019
Source: File photo The Norumbega Inn will offer dinner service to the public by reservation, when seats are available.

The Norumbega Inn is opening its dinner service to the public by reservation only.

In an area known for bed-and-breakfasts, inns and boutique hotels, the Norumbega, a stone castle built in 1886, stands out.

Previously, the inn was restricted to serving dinner to its overnight guests, but owners Sue Walser and Chef Philip Crispo recently received approval from the Zoning Board to extend their multi-course tasting menu to the public. Crispo has been a chef for 36 years, an instructor with the Culinary Institute of America, and is a winner of the Food Network show "Chopped." He has served as executive chef at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland, and other prestigious culinary establishments.

Walser and Crispo first went to the Planning Board earlier this year to explain their plan to fill seats in their dining room when tables are open. The owners promoted the idea of opening up the experience of the inn and Crispo's cuisine, while strengthening the inn's year-round viability. The Planning Board and Select Board both supported the idea, which required a zoning change. Voters strongly supported the zoning change at the polls in June, 455 to 49. The zoning change does not allow an increase in seating in the dining room, and requires a special exception from the ZBA.

Norumbega Inn is one of three hotels with restaurants located in the Village District, and before Sept. 10, was the only one of the three not allowed to serve dinner to the public. The Whitehall Inn and the Camden Harbor Inn were already serving dinner to the public before current zoning was adopted, and are allowed to continue.

The ZBA granted the special exception to allow the change, with the conditions that dinner will be served inside the inn, and not outside on its decks, and would end at 10 p.m.. An added condition is that the owners will request from all food delivery companies that deliveries be made on the property, and not from the street.

The three conditions were agreed to by Zoning Board members and Norembega owners, and were among numerous conditions requested by owners of neighboring properties during a public hearing. Neighbors who commented expressed support for the Norembega's new endeavor, while seeking to protect the quiet enjoyment of their properties from increased noise, glaring light of entering and exiting traffic and deliveries because of the expanded dinner service.

Neighbors who raised concerns, including the future consequences of any changes made now to the Norumbega's dinner service, included Dennis and Judith McGuirk, Jennifer Healy, Joanne Ball, Jeanne Denny, Michael Skaling and Lavana Snyder.

Denny asked if the Inn would open its bar to customers who are not dining there. Walser replied that while the Inn has a full bar, it would not offer bar service alone to any members of the public.

Neighbor Bob Knapp spoke in full support of the plans for expanding Norumbega's dining service to the public. He said he could see the Norumbega from his back deck, which faces the property, and he hears no noise from the establishment. He countered concerns about noise and cars during special celebrations at the Inn, reminding neighbors that during special events at the Whitehall Inn, cars park all along nearby Marine Avenue.

Walser objected to a concern about delivery trucks raised by several neighbors who told a story about a refrigerated delivery truck that parked overnight in front of the Norumbega and ran the refrigeration all night. It turns out this happened once in the 1990s, and was not repeated.

Attorney Paul Gibbons, representing Walser and Crispo, disputed claims that anything the owners were proposing would cause substantial adverse impacts to the neighbors in an area where there were already several bed-and-breakfasts, and where Route 1 "generates a lot of noise all by itself." He strongly rebuffed the request that the Norumbega restrict dinner service to the public to the off season, and stated the request was for 12 months of the year.

The Zoning Board of Appeals meeting is livestreamed and archived on the town of Camden's YouTube channel.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Sep 18, 2019 16:45

Good luck to this future business that is being offered and special thoughts to good neighbors who realize commerce is important to any tax structure in and out of town.

Mary "Mickey" (Brown) McKeever +:0).....

If you wish to comment, please login.