Portland’s historic Danforth Inn was sold Thursday to new owners who plan to invest as much as $1 million to upgrade the inn and add a fine-dining restaurant.
The Danforth’s new owners are Raymond Brunyanszki and Oscar Verest, the owners of the upscale Camden Harbour Inn. Kimberly Swan, who operates The Swan Agency Sotheby’s International Realty in Bar Harbor, was the seller.
The inn, which was built in 1823 as a Federal-style mansion, was sold for $2.4 million, according to John Golden, the real estate professional who brokered the sale. (Golden also writes restaurant reviews for the Portland Press Herald.)
Brunyanszki said Thursday that he and his business partner have been looking to purchase a property in Portland for the past two years.
“The hospitality industry is growing fast in Portland and it’s a very desirable market to be in for any hotelier,” Brunyanszki said.
Brunyanszki and Verest also observed that Portland’s hospitality industry was missing a small, luxury inn comparable to the brand they’ve been developing at the Camden Harbour Inn since they acquired it in 2007.
“It’s been a wish for us to own a property there as we had some difficulty referring guests (of the Camden Harbour Inn) in that market,” Brunyanszki said. “We were looking for a similar product and we felt that the super high-end niche we are accommodating was not represented yet in the Portland market, and so we felt maybe it was better if we would find a property and do it ourselves and so create more synergy between the two markets.”
The inn wasn’t on the market, but Golden knew Brunyanszki and Verest were looking and so he approached Swan with the proposition.
“In the real estate business, everything is for sale,” said Golden, who operates The John Golden Group, which markets real estate in New York and Maine.
In the next few weeks, Brunyanszki and Verest will make some small upgrades to the inn to improve its service and amenities, Brunyanszki said. Once the year’s peak hospitality market is through, the business partners plan to make major renovations to the inn, including the addition of an upscale restaurant. Brunyanszki said they have a budget of $700,000 to $1 million for upgrades.
The Camden Harbour Inn is home to a successful restaurant called Natalie’s, which recently was named one of the top 100 restaurants in America by OpenTable, a company that offers online restaurant reservation services.
Brunyanszki wouldn’t reveal many details about the plans for a new restaurant as they’re still developing the concept. But they do know they will not try to duplicate Natalie’s at the Danforth.
“I think the restaurant and how it looks needs a different concept. It will be fine dining like Natalie’s. It will also be relaxed fine dining like Natalie’s,” he said. “But we are looking at different cuisine and concepts and talking to different chefs right now to come up with something Portland would like to have, embrace and would also fit our brand and what our guests are expecting from us.”
Brunyanszki said they’re speaking to chefs in Maine, outside the state and even internationally to create a unique dining experience at the Danforth.
“Chefs are so creative and have such a strong vision that we would like to make sure the vision we have and the chef’s vision are at least on the same page and we can have a longer relationship,” he said.
The Danforth was previously home to a Latin-themed restaurant called Carmen, which received many positive reviews under chef Carmen Gonzalez before it closed in March 2013 after being open for only eight months. Its closure was blamed on a problem with the ventilation system that would have been too costly to fix, Swan told the Portland Press Herald at the time.
Brunyanszki said he and Verest are feeling the pressure to repeat their success at the Camden Harbour Inn, which last November received an elite certification from Relais & Chateaux that is held by only 500 small luxury inns in the world.
“It’s pressure we put on ourselves of course but people expect us to do great things in Portland and we do not want to disappoint people,” he said. “So it definitely has our full attention right now.”
Staff Writer Whit Richardson can be reached at 791-6463 or at: