By Valerie Franchi, Contributing Writer
Grafton – John and Laurie Pardee have literally been at the center of the Grafton community for 15 years, as owners of the Grafton Inn on the common.
“The inn is where local people come to meet and eat,” John said. “Residents seem to gravitate toward it.”
During their ownership, John said, they have more than doubled the business, attracting more locals and out-of-towners to the inn that is one of the oldest continuously run inns in the country.
Laurie, a health coordinator for the Northborough-Southborough School District, spends evenings working at the inn and is the resident baker.
To the dismay of the many friends they have made over the years, the couple recently announced they were selling the inn and moving on to new
“It’s been a great 15 years,” John noted. “We have made a lot of friends and enjoyed being part of the community.”
Prior to buying the inn in 2000, the Pardees ran the Westborough Country Club for 12 years.
After almost three decades at the two venues, John said they are ready “to go from seven days a week to five. We would like to have weekends off. It has been good for our family; it helped put [our four children] through college.”
The Pardees have not decided what their next undertaking will be.
“We are looking at different opportunities,” John said, adding that the couple intends to remain living in Westborough for the near future.
The inn has been purchased by James Hunter of Whitinsville, who John said will be a good fit for the community and the inn.
“He is family man,” he said. “He has never owned a place, but has been in the restaurant business for more than 25 years.”
John said that some Grafton locals are “upset with me because they think the inn is going to change. I have to reassure them that it will remain the same Grafton Inn that they know and love.”
John said Hunter intends to keep the same hours of operation, menu and staff. To ensure a “seamless transition,” John will continue working part time.
Laurie, who has been an integral part of the business, will also continue to do the baking for the inn.
“She loves to bake,” John noted.
The transition to the new ownership is awaiting the transfer of state licenses, most likely by the end of November.