Doors open­ing?

New life, new rooms for the Pub­lic House


The Flint Hill Pub­lic House will be re­born as an inn and restau­rant in late fall of 2011, ac­cord­ing to Wil­liam Way­bourn, one of the new own­ers. Four lux­ury ac­com­mo­da­tions will be of­fered. A pa­tio in the rear of the house will be avail­able for spe­cial events. Plans have yet to be firmed up for the build­ing which housed school buses, and an­other that served as a barn, Way­bourn said.

With his part­ner, Craig Spauld­ing, Way­bourn on June 17 fi­nal­ized the pur­chase of the five-acre prop­erty, which has been va­cant for more than three years. Fi­nanc­ing was ob­tained from Union Bank.

Opitz Con­struc­tion, lo­cated on Ben Venue Road, will be the gen­eral con­trac­tor for the ren­o­va­tion

ef­fort, said Way­bourn. Ernesto San­talla, an ar­chi­tect based in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. has drawn up the plans.

Spauld­ing and Way­bourn en­gaged John Gru­ber and Marvin Swaner as gen­eral man­ager, and chef and as­sis­tant man­ager re­spec­tively. Both men are on the staff of Houli­han’s in Front Royal, and share 30 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in hos­pi­tal­ity. Way­bourn ex­pects the first day of their em­ploy­ment with the new Flint Hill Pub­lic House and Coun­try Inn will be July 1.

The part­ners also op­er­ate Screen Ar­chives En­ter­tain­ment in Lin­den, where they live, and Long View Gallery in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

In the past, what had most re­cently been a pop­u­lar restau­rant has also served a mu­seum, an art gallery and a school. Spauld­ing and Way­bourn had an open mind about how to re­make the house.

Way­bourn walked around Flint Hill, he said, ini­ti­at­ing con­ver­sa­tions with those he en­coun­tered. He asked about res­i­dents’ ex­pe­ri­ence with the build­ing, and so­licited their thoughts. He also spoke with peo­ple in Sper­ryville, Hume and Front Royal. One cou­ple told him about get­ting mar­ried two decades ago at the Pub­lic House, he said, and were ex­cited about the pos­si­bil­ity of cel­e­brat­ing their wed­ding an­niver­sary there next spring.

“At one time, Flint Hill was a thriv­ing restau­rant com­mu­nity,” said Way­bourn. “The Grif­fin Tav­ern has held the fort.”

He and Spauld­ing want to col­lab­o­rate with the winer­ies in the area and take an ac­tive role in the com­mu­nity, he said.

Deb­bie Done­hey, who with her hus­band Jim Done­hey owns Grif­fin Tav­ern next door to the Flint Hill Pub­lic House, thinks the new es­tab­lish­ment will ben­e­fit Flint Hill and Rap­pa­han­nock County, and pos­si­bly the tav­ern as well.

“I’ve al­ways be­lieved restau­rants are like car deal­er­ships,” Done­hey emailed. “The more you have in one area, the more likely peo­ple will come in and check them all out. It’s much eas­ier to get into your car and drive an hour to a des­ti­na­tion know­ing that you have mul­ti­ple places to choose from. If you only have one you sec­ond-guess the trip.”

Done­hey noted that of­ten the Grif­fin’s pa­trons will ask about lodg­ing. Be­ing able to say “within walk­ing dis­tance” will be a plea­sure, she wrote.

More in­for­ma­tion about the pro­ject is on­line at flinthillp­ub­li­c­hou­

Cour­tesy photo

BACK TO LIFE: The old Flint Hill Pub­lic House, va­cant for nearly three years, will soon be the Flint Hill Pub­lic House and Coun­try Inn.

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