ARLINGTON – It’s been a little more than a month since Buzz Kanter purchased The Arlington Inn. But it didn’t take long for Kanter and his partner, Tabetha Hammer, who met in the motorcycle collecting and restoration world, to learn just how hectic the life of a Vermont innkeeper can be.
How hectic? The champagne set aside to celebrate their closing on the historic property is still parked in the refrigerator, awaiting a moment when they can pause to mark their purchase of one of Arlington’s most historic landmarks.
“We closed on the place at 11 o’clock on a Friday. That evening we had 12 rooms check in and it’s been nonstop ever since,” Hammer said. “Our second weekend of ownership we catered a dinner for the Equinox Hill Climb group for 80 people.”
The bubbly might have to wait a bit longer. The Inn, which provides breakfast for guests, is planning to open for paying customers starting on Oct. 6. The business also plans to hire a licensed massage therapist, and is taking reservations for appointments starting Oct. 3.
“I’m getting rave reviews for our breakfasts from our guests,” Kanter said. “We wanted healthy and we wanted fresh and we try to use local ingredients when possible.”
To that end, the inn is looking for workers to join the team and working on revitalizing the property while keeping it running for paying guests. The fall leaf peeper season is already booked solid, they said.
The property was purchased by River Run Properties LLC, of which Kanter is the principal, for $1,199,000 from Eric Berger, according to records on file with the Arlington Town Clerk’s office. The closing was July 29.
Looking around the four-acre property, there’s plenty of evidence that Kanter, Hammer and their team have been busy. Several trees have been cut down, opening up views of the four-acre property. Overgrown bushes next to houses have been pared back. Inside, the entrance has been rearranged to bring the reception desk to the front hall.
They’re also finding history in every nook and cranny — including a guest register dating back to the 19th century.
Kanter came to the hospitality industry having already retired from the publishing industry. Born to a family in the publishing business — Dell Magazines and Penny Press, which his mother founded — Kanter edited and published classic motorcycle magazines until 2020.
Kanter, who has owned a home in West Arlington for eight years, heard that the Arlington Inn was for sale and went to take a look.
“We walked in and we walked around, and I would say the best word is we were ‘enchanted.’ It’s an amazing property,” Kanter said. “We walked around and every room was a discovery.”
If that wasn’t enough, Kanter was sold when he met his potential new neighbors.
“We met the people at Arlington Common, who are doing an amazing job revitalizing and creating a new asset in town,” he said.
And though the Inn, circa 1848, has kept Kanter and Hammer quite busy, they see great things ahead for the business, and for their town.
“We love the potential. We didn’t want to be investing all this time and money into something that nobody’s going to enjoy. The feeling is Arlington is coming to a renaissance. People are investing in the town, growing the town.”
So far, the local reception into all the work has been positive, Kanter said. He was on hand Saturday when the Inn held a sale at its barn, behind the main inn and carriage house, during the Norman’s Attic Fall Fest.
“We must have had 20 or more people say, ‘I’ve lived here all my life and I never knew there was a barn here,’ he said.
Kanter and Hammer met at a high-end motorcycle show — she was director of the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance, he was a judge.
Having gotten his start as a photographer for United Press International, Kanter worked for his parents’ publishing companies, until obtaining his masters in business administration and starting his own motorcycle magazine, Old Bike Journal, as his thesis project. A member of the American Motorcycle Association Hall of Fame, Kanter purchased American Iron Magazine, editing and publishing that magazine and several others until 2020, when, he said, the COVID pandemic “basically walloped our advertisers.”
If the Arlington Inn were a classic car, what kind of car would it be? Hammer thought that over for a moment, and she had a remarkably specific answer: A 1911 Oldsmobile Touring Limited seven-passenger car, which was purchased at auction for $1.65 million in 2007. One of Hammer’s friends was the car’s caretaker.
Why? That 1911 Olds was believed to be the only all-original, unrestored example of its kind — and only 159 were built that year. At the time of the auction, Hammer recalled, there was significant debate in the classic car world about whether it should be restored so it could run, or left completely original.
“An all-original car is only all-original once — and if you start repairing it, how far do you go?” hammer said. “I think a place like this is very much in that same vein. And we’re coming into this after several people have already done their thing to it.”
But in the car world, she explained, there’s such a thing as a “sympathetic restoration,” which is maintaining as much of the original as possible while getting it running and functioning as a car — the thing it was built to be.
“So I think a place like this kind of has that same mindset,” she said. “You want to do what you need to do to it to operate it. To operate it as an inn, as a place that’s comfortable for people to stay, while trying to do whatever you can to maintain that originality, preserve the areas that can be preserved.”