Hearth & Home: New owners blend talents to bring new life to Stone Hearth Mustoe-Eklund family take on work of transforming 200-year-old inn

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2022 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Five days before Christmas, Vicky Mustoe, her son and daughter and son-in-law arrived in Chester. Moving from Orlando, Fla., the family was about to begin a new chapter in their lives — transforming The Stone Hearth Inn and Tavern on Route 11 West into Stone Hearth Inn and Eatery.

It was on Dec. 15 that they bought the inn and tavern, a regular weekend stop for ski families, snowmobilers and locals alike, from Sheldon Ghetler and Francy Anderson, who owned it for 14 years.

Conner Eklund, center, Georgia Mustoe-Eklund, left, and Vicky Mustoe explain some of the changes to the restaurant area. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

The days since they signed the papers on the 200-year-old inn have been full of work, discovery and planning.

After two years cooped up with the pandemic, during which Vicky’s husband Nick died unexpectedly, the family was ready for a change. Since daughter Georgia and her husband Conner Eklund are graduates of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., that change would incorporate those talents. So they began looking for a bed and breakfast they could run together.

Vicky says that the four of them  — including son Edward — work very well together and it’s noticeable as they often finish each other’s sentences.

“Orlando was getting to the stage when we were ready for a change,” says Vicky referring to the pace of work there.

“She never had a day off,” adds Conner.

“We thought this has got to stop, we need to do something to change it up…” says Vicky

“…and if we’re going to do something we need to do something big,” says Georgia.

“Something big and something together,” answers Vicky.

So the search for the right place – a bed and breakfast they thought – began. They looked “all over the place,” naming Tennessee, Colorado and Virginia for starters, according to Georgia.

“But I just liked the thought of Vermont,” says Georgia. “We came up a few times and just fell in love with (the Stone Hearth) and we were packing our bags…”

“and persuading mom to sell her business,” says Vicky referring to the coaxing her children undertook for her to sell her property management company that had 20 to 30 homes “in Disney.”

They felt that an inn with a restaurant was “the best of both worlds.”

“Essentially we’ll cut the place in two,” says Vicky.”I’ll run the inn and these two will run the other end” pointing to Georgia and Conner. Her son Edward will work with Vicky at the inn.

Homebaked bread and home cooking

According to Georgia and Conner, the change in name from restaurant to eatery reflects the more casual, flexible nature of the endeavor. Customers can order at the counter and take a numbered table tent to sit down to be served. The fare will include soups and sandwiches as well as meals they describe as “home cooking.”

Conner, Georgia and Vicky expect to be welcoming guests in March. Missing from the photo was Edward Mustoe.

All the sandwich breads and rolls will be made on site, a specialty of Georgia, who is a trained in pastry and specializes in bread.

Bar seating will be replaced by display cases for their homemade baked goods that will also include pastries. Wine and beer will be served, but Conner says they will lose “about 80 percent of the hard liquor but do some spiked drinks and a couple of signature cocktails.”

While the stage for performances will remain and there’s an upright grand piano, the pool table is gone, but the lamps above it will remain to light a large dining table. And a lounge area will be in front of the massive stone fireplace. In the spring, they plan to construct a large deck over the patio area in the back for better seating.

And with four weddings already “in the pipeline,” Georgia says they want to be a busy event space. “I love making wedding cakes,” she says.

Behind the scenes, the kitchen is being torn apart and decisions on a full menu will wait on how that goes.

“We need to understand the capabilities of the kitchen for serving a lot of people,” says Conner. “But we can cook anything.”

“It’s going to be a ‘from scratch’ kitchen,” says Georgia.

Among other things, there will be new mixers, new bake ovens and two new “reach in” coolers that will replace the walk-in that used a lot of electricity as it struggled to keep its temperature.

“I’ve done plenty of renovations – including a 14th century farmhouse – but (a commercial kitchen) is a new one on me.” says Vicky.

And bringing the building up to code will be part of the work, since building codes — especially for public building — have changed since the time Ghetler and Anderson bought the building.

The small dining room next to the kitchen – which is more a part of the inn – is piled high with everything that used to be in the kitchen, but in time this will be the breakfast room for the inn and a venue for private parties.

While the contractors – who will start work this week – pull together the kitchen and dining room, the family will turn its attention to the inn. They’ll be painting the walls in historically accurate “very bold” Victorian colors, installing oiled-bronze metal beds with white bedding and curtains that Vicky will be sewing.

And they’ll be working on one of the surprises they found. Tearing up old carpeting in the bedrooms they discovered plywood sub-floors. Pulling those up revealed wide plank hardwood floors and they will be painstakingly removing the remaining plywood so they don’t damage the floors underneath.

In the spring, the namesake “stone hearth” fireplace will be relined.

Vicky is looking forward to guests who find something that brings them back to the inn. “It’s like a second family that shows up once in a while,” says Georgia.

As for opening, the contractors say that they will be done by the end of February, but there will be licensing and inspections so the family is shooting for a soft opening of the Eatery in mid-March and the inn in early spring

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  1. Gordie Spater says:

    Welcome to Chester. We are excited to have you.

  2. Irene Bassock says:

    Welcome to Chester! Can’t wait to visit the new place.
    We’ll miss the bar scene, which was a nice place to gather and catch up with neighbors.

  3. Polly Montgomery says:

    Great article. We so look forward to this venture! We greatly miss the Stone Hearth Inn for Friday night hamburgers with friends. It was a wonderful place. We now look forward to spring at the new Eatery.

  4. I so enjoyed reading this and am so excited for you! And OH! The old wide plank floors!! Yippee!
    Welcome to Chester!

  5. Don Strohmeyer says:

    As a former owner of the property (for 15 years) all I can say is best of luck for your success and I look forward to stopping in after you are open.

  6. Kate Matracia says:

    Welcome to wonderful Chester! I am looking forward to enjoying your hospitality when you are open. Best wishes for your future success!

  7. Michaeline Curtis says:

    So excited about your opening! I’m interested in possibly scheduling a wedding there … is there a person I can contact about this?

  8. I’m so excited.
    My Husband and I got married there
    in 1999 in front of the stone hearth!
    The inn Is beautiful.
    Welcome to our little town!!

  9. Sue Bailey says:

    Welcome to the neighborhood!

  10. Donna Matthews says:

    So exciting! Congratulations .Sounds like a true rebirth and we all look forward to it!

  11. Thomas Knockenhauer says:

    Congrats on your plans, they all sound wonderful.