Pursuing their hearts, pair updates landmark hotel

PORT TOWNSEND — This few arrived to Port Townsend to begin an completely distinctive lifetime.

“We had been the two furloughed from our work all through COVID,” explained Eric Wennberg who, with his lover Jessica Jennings, took a move back from his urban occupation — and then a leap into a new area in this rural county.

Jennings and Wennberg purchased the landmark Bishop Lodge at 714 Washington St. 6 months into the pandemic. The former proprietors, Cindy and Joe Finnie, were being completely ready to retire they marketed the 132-12 months-outdated building for $1,950,000 and, at the finish of previous yr, bought their other residence, the Swan Hotel, to the Northwest Maritime Centre for
$2 million.

Now that Wennberg and Jennings have weathered above a 12 months of hospitality in challenging conditions, they’ve expanded their business. The new Bishop Block Bottle Store is a wine bar-cafe with counter company indoors and dining out in the backyard — with fire tables for warmth.

“This was an opportunity to imagine exterior the box, and re-imagine what we were being doing,” Jennings said of their preceding occupations. Initially from Detroit, she invested a long time managing new music venues and places to eat in Seattle.

Wennberg, a hairstylist and educator, traveled a whole lot. He did have some hospitality expertise as a resort valet when he was 18 — but just about every little thing about this new undertaking has been “a shock and a mastering curve,” he explained.

COVID protection mandates incorporate a different layer to the company, the pair acknowledged, when Jennings emphasized they are in complete guidance of Jefferson County’s procedures.

“Everyone that performs listed here is totally vaccinated. We just take it severely,” she extra.

Nonetheless, as in industries across the state, staffing has been a massive problem.

“Last summer was intriguing,” Jennings stated, “and fortunately we had a trusty team of 4 people today, which includes us,” to operate the 16-suite resort.

Caring for a composition crafted in 1890 provides still a further mastering knowledge, Wennberg mentioned. The Bishop Block has led a lot of life, including as a rooming residence during Globe War II and as the Owl Cigar Co. at the transform of the 20th century.

Running a lodge and a restaurant at this issue in heritage “has absolutely been challenging,” Jennings said.

Nonetheless she and Wennberg truly feel strongly that they’ve discovered their area. They’re growing the payroll, employing chef Cameron Irving-Mills and wine steward Kristen Skeel, to provide house-built treats, beverages and, Thursday by way of Sunday, meal in the backyard.

Irving-Mills, who has cooked in places to eat from San Francisco to Chicago to Seattle, arrived past fall, when area create was not at its peak. Producing menus was “challenging, but not in a poor way,” he mentioned.

“So significantly, the solutions right here have been certainly remarkable,” the chef reported, incorporating he’s linked with Crimson Puppy Farm, Comfortable Stage Farm and other close by growers for refreshing make to prepare in the Bishop’s very small kitchen.

Among the dishes Irving-Mills has cooked up: steamed Alaskan salmon with a black onion puree regional greens dressed with fermented horseradish in a fortified salmon broth fermented carrots with olive pearls duck liver mousse roasted beet tartare caramelized carrot dip.

“I’m on the lookout ahead to spring. It will be neat to go to the farms and meet up with everyone,” he added.

With these additions, the Bishop’s new house owners hope to give a curated experience of Port Townsend and the North Olympic Peninsula, with farm-to-desk delicacies and tips about items to do.

Even as the pandemic and winter season linger, “we’re undertaking our ideal to make everybody’s encounter joyful,” Wennberg said.

“In the local climate we’re in, there is however contentment to be had.”


Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]