When Rory Tagert and his wife first visited Westport's Inn at Longshore, he had to convince her to not turn the car right around and head back home to New York almost immediately. The condition of the building was a far cry from the idyllic wedding location people know today.
"The patio bar which is operated by Splash, outside, was basically like a mud field. It had no patio, it was just a bar in the middle of a mud field," said Tagert in front of a camera recording his words for a series of interviews with Longshore personalities as part of the 50th anniversary of the town's purchase of the property. The Westport Historic Society hosts the videos on its website, though they are searchable on YouTube as well.
The entire property needed an overhaul. Tagert said, "It didn't at that time have a personality, it was a big old building with Long Island Sound as a backdrop." As he and his wife toured the property, they bumped into the trustee and asked for a drink. Tagert questioned the property's revenue stream. It didn't have one. The trustee bought them the drink, which if Tagert had paid for himself would have been the day's only sale.
Despite the condition of the property, Tagert eventually signed a 25-year lease with the town and began renovations. The Inn at Longshore people know today was unveiled on June 7, 1985, after more than $750,000 in renovations.
Now, Tagert's investment plays host to four weddings each weekend. He added the restaurant, Splash, on as a tenant 15 years ago. He has so many stories about the property he almost walked away from that he says he can't recall them all. The Inn has become such a part of his life he can't imagine the last 25 years without it. The personal investment of that much time, becomes somewhat consuming.
"You know when you work to build a business like ours, you spend a lot of time, especially in the early days worrying about it, building it, making sure you're doing the right thing and sometimes you make mistakes. Anyone who owns their own business for a long period of time treats their work in a different fashion I suspect than people who work for big companies," Tagert said
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