EATON — Owned and managed by Tim Ostendorf and Bobby Barker, the Inn at Crystal Lake and the Palmer House Pub are filled with the scent of fresh bread, cookies and other delicious homemade treats every morning.
Celebrating its 18th anniversary this year, the inn, which opened under their management in 2001, can be found right where Route 153 (Eaton Road) curves through the village of Eaton.
Neither Bobby nor Tim had a background in hotel management before taking on the challenge. The couple had been living in Boston and would visit the Mount Washington Valley on vacation.
“One day we were driving around and just saw the property, and it clicked for us; we decided to take a chance,” Tim recalled.
The restaurant is run almost entirely by Bobby and Tim themselves, aside from a wait staff and dishwasher. The two of them create the menus, shop, prepare and serve the meals five nights a week.
“When we need it, I jump in as the host or the bartender, whatever we need,” Tim said.
With a capacity of 36, this is an impressive feat for such a small crew. The Palmer House Pub is an eclectic, full-service bar/restaurant that serves everything from pub fare — shepherd’s pie, mac and cheese, sandwiches and wraps — to full entrees such as steak, salmon and shrimp dishes.
“Everything is homemade, from the bread and desserts to the ice cream, sauces and salad dressings,” Tim said. “Bobby makes bread every single morning, and I make ice cream once a week.”
Luckily for them, bringing the inn up to date involved only small repairs and some repainting, not to mention infusing the place with their own style.
“I always say it’s always a work in progress,” Tim said of the process of decorating each of the rooms. “We joke that we had to buy an inn just to have a place to put everything.”
The inn has 11 guest rooms, including one that is pet-friendly. All rooms are equipped with air conditioning, TV, WiFi, private baths and phones. All second-floor guest rooms also have balconies.
Access to Crystal Lake is another great amenity, as the beach is reserved for residents of Eaton and the inn’s guests only. As motor boats aren’t allowed on Crystal Lake, a serene atmosphere is guaranteed.
Keep on the lookout for news of the pub’s movie nights, called “Watch it Wednesday.”
They also offer transportation to and from concerts at the Stone Mountain Arts Center in nearby Brownfield, Maine, as part of a package that also features a meal at the restaurant.
And Tim, himself a professional opera singer, often hosts opera dinners.
The opera dinner package comes with a special dish created for the evening, a discussion of a specific classical opera and the performance of some of its most notable pieces by Tim himself, joined by other trained performers with accompaniment.
For more information about the Inn at Crystal Lake, stop by the inn at 2356 Eaton Road, call (603) 447-2120 or go to innatcrystallake.com.