The Red Lion Inn and Main Street Hospitality Group | Connecting Point | Nov. 6, 2019


>>THIS MONTH “CONNECTING POINT”
PRESENTS A FOUR-PART SERIES ON “WOMEN BUSINESS LEADERS IN THE
BERKSHIRES.” OUR CREW VISITED FOUR WOMEN-RUN
BUSINESSES TO LEARN BOTH THE CHALLENGES THEY FACE, AND THE
ACCOMPLISHMENTS THEY ARE MOST PROUD OF. WE BEGIN TONIGHT WITH
STOCKBRIDGE-BASED MAIN STREET HOSPITALITY GROUP, THE COMPANY
THAT RUNS THE ICONIC RED LION INN, WHICH IS CELEBRATING 50
YEARS OF OWNERSHIP BY THE FITZPATRICK FAMILY. “CONNECTING POINT’S” CAROLEE
MCGRATH SAT DOWN WITH NANCY FITZPATRICK, DAUGHTER OF THE
INN’S ORIGINAL OWNERS AND THIRD-GENERATION FAMILY MEMBER
SARAH EUSTIS, WHO CURRENTLY SERVES AS MAIN STREET
HOSPITALITY’S CEO. SHE BEGAN BY ASKING EUSTIS TO
TALK ABOUT THE INN, WHICH HAS STOOD ON THE SAME SPOT SINCE
1773.>>THE RED LION INN, IT’S AN
ICON IN THIS CASE NEW ENGLAND PLACE I LIKE TO THINK IT HAS
INTERNATIONAL AND NATIONAL RENOWNED ON THE CROSSROADS RIGHT
HERE IN THE CORNER. IS A PLACE THAT HAS EXISTED FOR
OVER 240 YEARS HAS BEEN IN OUR FAMILY FOR 50. AND IT IS A HOTEL AND IT’S A
SERIES OF RESTAURANTS BUT IT’S REALLY MORE THAN THAT IN A LOT
OF WAYS. IT’S A PLACE WHERE STORIES
UNFOLD, LIVES UNFOLD, PEOPLE MEET, IMPORTANT THINGS HAPPEN
AND HISTORY IS I THINK UNFOLDING HERE ALL THE TIME. AND WE ARE THE STEWARDS OF THIS
PLACE AND WE’RE REALLY PROUD TO DO THAT.>>NANCY, TELL ME A LITTLE BIT
ABOUT YOUR ROLE AND WHEN YOU TOOK OVER.>>WELL, MY PARENTS BOUGHT THIS
PROPERTY IN DECEMBER OF 1968. THEY BOUGHT IT AS A KIND OF
RESCUE PROJECT TO KEEP THIS GOING, TO KEEP THE CORNER FROM
BECOMING THE SITE OF A STRIP MALL OR GAS STATION. AND SO THEY DIDN’T HAVE IT —
THEY DIDN’T RUN IT REALLY AS BUSINESS. IT WAS MORE OF COMMUNITY SERVICE
PROJECT FOR THEM SUPPORTED BY THEIR BUSINESS COUNTRY CURTAINS. WHEN I TOOK OVER IN THE FALL OF
1992, I REALLY FELT IT COULD BE A STRONG BUSINESS. AND THANK TO MY PARENTS AND AM
THE COMMITMENT THEY MADE, OUR REPUTATION WAS AS SARAH SAID
EXTENSIVE AND I JUST FELT THAT THERE WAS A LOT OF KNOWLEDGE AND
TALENT THAT COULD BE LEVERAGED TO BE A BIT MORE BUSINESS LIKE.>>SO HERE YOU ARE SITTING ON AN
ABSOLUTE TREASURE AND YOU’RE RUNNING THAT NOW. TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT
YOU’VE LEARNED FROM NANCY AND THE OTHER WOMEN THAT HAVE GONE
EVEN BEFORE HER ABOUT RUNNING A BUSINESS.>>WELL, A LOT.
AND MY CAREER OUTSIDE OF THE FAMILY BUSINESS WAS VERY
DIFFERENT, IT WAS IN BIG CORPORATE SITUATIONS IN
DIFFERENT CITIES AROUND THE WORLD. AND THAT WAS GREAT. AND I APPRECIATED THAT. AS I LOOK BACK WE’RE ALL FAMILY
BUSINESSES ALSO. SO I MUST HAVE BEEN DRAWN TO
THIS IDEA THAT THERE’S A REASON WE’RE HERE, WE’RE TRYING TO
CREATE AND MAINTAIN VALUE FOR EVERYONE AND WRAP IT AROUND A
STORY THAT KEEPS PEOPLE CONNECTED TO WHY THEY’RE HERE. SO IN COMING BACK, I REALLY HAD
TO LOOK HOW CAN I ADD VALUE, IS THIS EXPERIENCE RELEVANT? NANCY HAS BEEN GUIDING OUR THIRD
GENERATION OF FAMILY FOR MANY YEARS AND THE IDEA IS THAT THERE
HAS TO BE A REAL NEED AND YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE EXPERTISE TO BE
ABLE TO ADD VALUE. I CAME IN WITH THAT MINDSET. AND TOOK A LOOK AT WHAT MATERIAL
WE HAD TO WORK WITH, WHICH IS A LOT. SO, IT’S NOT — THERE ARE DAYS
WHEN IT’S A LITTLE INTIMIDATING STEWARDING A PLACE LIKE THIS
BECAUSE THE DETAIL AND THE CONSTANT UPKEEP AND THE SERVICE
LEVELS AND THE REPUTATION AND ALL OF THAT THAT I GREW UP
UNDERSTANDING AND LEARNING ABOUT AND NANA AS WE CALL HER, JANE,
WAS A FIERCE STICKLER FOR DETAIL. AND AS IS NANCY SHE DOES IT IN A
DIFFERENT WAY.>>ALL OF OUR ONLY LITTLE
DETAILS.>>BUT I REALIZE THAT’S WHAT
MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE.>>YEAH IT.>>REALLY, REALLY DOES.>>THAT MAKES IT SPECIAL FOR
PEOPLE WHO COME.>>ABSOLUTELY.>>THEY MEAN SOMETHING TO YOU.
AND THEY WALK AWAY FEELING THIS GREAT EXPERIENCE.>>I GUESS MY FOCUS MAY BE
DIFFERENT FROM PREVIOUS GENERATIONS, A LITTLE BIT, IS ON
INSURING THAT OUR STAFF OWNED OUR TEAMS ARE ABLE TO PROVIDE A
REALLY GENUINE SENSE OF HOSPITALITY AND WARMTH THAT
MAKES PEOPLE RAVE AND WANT TO COME BACK. YOU ASKED ABOUT HOW HOSPITALITY
HAS CHANGED, I THINK THE COMPETITION AND THE ACTUAL
NUMBER OF HOTEL ROOMS IN THE BERKSHIRES HAVE EXPLODED SINCE I
GOT HERE. IT MEANS THAT WE CAN’T TAKE
ANYTHING FOR GRANTED.>>HOW MANY DIFFERENT PROPERTIES
NOW ARE YOU INVOLVED IN?>>SO NOW WE ARE — OUR
RELATIONSHIPS WITH EACH ONE ARE A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT BUT WE
SUPPORT THE OPERATIONS AND/OR ARE PARTNERS IN RED LION INN,
PORCHES, WHICH HAS BEEN — NANCY HAS BEEN A REALLY SUCCESSFUL
PROJECT OVER THE LAST 20 YEARS IN PARTNERSHIP. HOTEL ON NORTH IN PITS FIELD
WHICH OPENED IN 2015 WHICH WE WERE VERY INVOLVED IN THE
DEVELOPMENT AND DESIGN AND OPENING OF THAT AND HAVE BEEN
OPERATING. WE ACQUIRED THE BRIARCLIFF MOTEL
WHICH IS RIGHT AT THE BASE OF THE MOUNTAIN WHICH IS SORT OF
MODERN, FUN DESIGN MOTEL WHICH HAS DONE VERY WELL. WE HAVE ANOTHER FAMILY PROPERTY
IN SHEFFIELD CALLS THE RACE BROOK LODGE THAT MY BROTHER
CASEY, MANAGES. IS OWNED ALSO BY OUR FAMILY. AND WE HAVE BEEN ENGAGED ON TWO
NEW PROPERTIES OUTSIDE OF THE BERKSHIRES, IT’S OUR MAIDEN
VOYAGE INTO RHODE ISLAND WITH PROPERTIES IN NEWPORT AND IN
PROVIDENCE.>>TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT
THE LOCATION AND THE FACT THAT THE RED LION IS IN IS PART OF
THIS RICH, RICH HISTORY RIGHT HERE IN STOCKBRIDGE.>>WELL OF COURSE WHEN YOU SAY
THAT, I IMMEDIATELY THINK OF NORMAN ROCKWELL’S ICONIC
PAINTING OF MAIN STREET STOCKBRIDGE. SO MANY PEOPLE JUST LOVE THAT
PAINTING. AND OF COURSE, I HAVE TO SAY
HONESTLY I HAVE MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT IT BECAUSE THE RED LION
IS, THEY’RE ALL DARK AND UNDECORATED. AND THAT’S BECAUSE IN THOSE DAYS
WHEN HE PAINTED THE PAINTING, THE RED LION WAS CLOSED BETWEEN
OCTOBER AND MAY. AND OF COURSE WE’VE DONE
EVERYTHING WE CAN TO SORT OF CHANGE THAT IMAGE. IT HASN’T MADE THE PAINTING LESS
POPULAR, THAT’S FOR SURE. MANY PEOPLE COME HERE AND THEY
TAKE A PICTURE IN FRONT AND I THINK EVERYBODY’S REALLY HAPPY
IT’S NOT DARK ANY MORE. IN DECEMBER. AT LEAST THE INN.>>I THINK IN THE WAY THAT OUR
WORLD IS EVOLVING, THAT THIS PLACE PROVIDES A LOT OF
REASSURANCE AND SORT OF A NOTION THAT LIFE IN AMERICA AND LIFE ON
THE MAIN STREET CAN BE WONDERFUL AND SIMPLE AND MEANINGFUL. SO NOT TO GO TOO DEEP BUT I
THINK THERE’S SOMETHING IN THERE THAT PEOPLE COME BACK TO TRY TO
CONNECT TO.

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