Main Street Hospitality branches out

STOCKBRIDGE, MA—Although Main Street Hospitality was only founded in 2014, it is the product of three generations with more than 50 years in the hospitality business—and as the company is growing, the sense of community that was instilled from its origins remains. But that hasn’t stopped the company from extending its reach beyond management—and the Berkshires.

“We are a third-generation women-owned, women-run business,” said Sarah Eustis, CEO of Main Street Hospitality. “My grandmother, Jane Fitzpatrick, bought the Red Lion Inn 50 years ago as a part of her overall business plan, which was more centered on her catalog retail home furnishings business. She used the inn as a retail location and a showroom. She fell into hospitality a little bit by accident.”

Eustis’ mother, Nancy Fitzpatrick, took on the second-generation leadership of the historic property, which was immortalized in Norman Rockwell’s Home for Christmas.

“She expanded thoughtfully and added The Porches Inn at MASS MoCa into the mix in 2001,” Eustis said. “During her tenure, she really stewarded the family engagement in the region and a lot of our other activities.”

The idea for Main Street Hospitality wouldn’t have been possible if the family hadn’t purchased the Red Lion Inn 50 years ago.

Eustis decided to return to the family business after 20 years in the apparel retail segment, working for major brands like Ralph Lauren, Gap Inc. anwd Limited Brands. “It wasn’tw something I necessarily planned way in advance,” said Eustis. “However, the second generation developed a very good, solid foundation of stewardship. I had stayed very connected to the business.”

By the time she finished a three-year contract in France, she felt a generational shift was happening in the business. Eustis said, “For me, as a professional looking out on the next 20 years of my career, I could either take all of my professional energy and experience and put it into someone else’s business, or I could bring it back and invest it in our family business.”

She continued, “I chose the latter because I felt I had value to add. I felt that there are many transferable concepts and approaches from retail to hospitality. In its most simple form, you make a good product, you create a good environment to sell it in, you smile and are nice to people and you provide a good value and an identity to what you are doing. It is the same concept—it is just an experience you are selling as opposed to a t-shirt.”

Part of the value Eustis is bringing is an expansion beyond the Berkshires for the company’s portfolio, which now includes six properties that it manages or owns.

In late October, the company broke ground on the 84-room full-service Hammetts Wharf hotel on the waterfront of Newport, RI.

“This will be our first new-build,” said Eustis. “Luckily, we are partnering with an amazing development team, Peregrine Group. It is their first hotel. It is an exciting partnership, and we are developing it along with them in terms of providing operational counsel throughout the development process; we will be the operators of the hotel. We are minor investors, but they are doing the heavy lifting on a $30-million project. That is really our first step out of the Berkshires, which we are really excited about.”

In addition to the new project in Rhode Island—along with the possibilities of others—Eustis is excited about two other extensions of the business. “One of them is an extension of hospitality brand marketing led by Janet Eason, who has an extensive background in the ad world and the branding world. This new agency is called 30 Main, and it comes from the address in Stockbridge,” she said.

Eustis continued, “It is really a full-service hospitality branding agency that will allow us to provide a higher level of service to independent hospitality groups and owners that would normally have to be farmed out to a separate agency, but because we are linked as the operator, and we have the capacity, we think there are synergies there that can be really exciting.”

The other is an extension on the design side of the hospitality business. “The work that we have done at some of our hotels has been done by an internal group of designers, and also a group of collaborators who we pull in as needed,” Eustis said. “That group is called Lion House Design. That is something that we are starting now to support what is going on in Newport, but also to work on some unique projects—interior design of hotels independent of operations.”

But despite the expansion projects, Main Street Hospitality will remain true to its roots. Eustis said she’s committed to  the brand of hospitality created by her grandparents over the years. “It was really genuine, connected hospitality that was not designed in a boardroom by some consultant,” she said.

“I grew up in the business,” she added. “I started working at the Red Lion Inn when I was 14. I have done almost every job in the place. I grew up appreciating not only the humility and the intensity of the work in hospitality—and the satisfaction of it also—but from a very early age, I was able to observe the way a well-run hotel can be really integrated into the community that it serves and be a force for good.

“As a theme for what Main Street Hospitality stands for, that is definitely a strong one,” she added. “We do believe that hotels—different than other businesses in retail, residential development and offices—really have the capacity to contribute to a community and be the heartbeat of a community.” HB

To see content in magazine format, click here.