History of Kemble Inn
Biography of Scott Shortt
The history of Kemble Inn and how I came to acquire it amazes me to this day.
I started my first company from my hometown North Bay, Ontario when I was 17-years old. I specialized in graphic design and Internet marketing. By the time I was 25, I had 12 employees and that youthful itch to head for the big city. So, I sold the company and moved to Toronto.
There I took a position in a large Canadian bank – CIBC. Apparently, I had a knack for that, as I moved up the ranks quickly and was promoted to management consultant for C-level executives. That led to an opportunity at Cigna, a U.S. health insurance company in Connecticut, where I worked full-time leading major projects. My move to the United States was solely a personal decision – while it made little sense at the time, I wanted to be near Manhattan – he was and still is, quite a handsome guy.
But there was something about the hospitality industry that always tugged at me. Before leaving Toronto, I had begun working without pay at a local catering company one day each week just to learn the ropes.
Before I knew what hit me, I found myself enrolled at the French Culinary Institute in New York City. I was hooked. My driving passion became finding some property to build a small-scale boutique hotel. During that search, I ran across Kemble Inn and fell in love with the building.
I must have wanted it badly because it took everything I had in me for the next seven months to complete the purchase. The problem was, I was a Canadian citizen with nothing more than a valid work visa. Without a green card, financing is nearly impossible. I had to resort to Plan B, which was borrowing $750,000 from a shady group of lawyers at astonishingly high interest rates. Fortunately, I was able to eventually refinance to a traditional mortgage, but I doubt that would’ve been possible had I not taken on the original mortgage.
The result was that three days before my 35th birthday, I purchased Kemble Inn for $1.65 million. However, the transition from that point to today was wild, to say the least. The original reservation system was literally a garbage bag of handwritten cards!
During the eight days between the time I made the purchase and we opened, we built a new website, got onto a property management system, refinished all of the floors, and burned as many of the flowery curtains as we could find! We discovered that when it rained, the basement flooded. If you ran the dishwasher, the basement flooded. If you turned on too many lights, the circuit breakers tripped. The building didn’t even come with enough forks or coffee cups to serve breakfast.
For five of the seven years following the purchase, I somehow managed to maintain full-time employment with Cigna, then AIG, then JV Driver. All the while, we were in the process of adding a commercial kitchen, along with our restaurant, Table Six. We gutted and renovated over 9000 square feet, replaced 88 windows, and insulated the building, to a tune of over $2 million.
During this time, I was living at the Inn, literally sleeping on the floor in the storage room or in the basement. Eventually, I felt confident enough to take one of the rooms for myself in 2014. And just this spring (2017), I was able to buy myself a small house in the Berkshires.
Today, my passion is to develop Kemble Inn into the leading destination boutique hotel in New England. And yes, I now have my green card!