New owners of Antlers Inn and Grand Central plan upgrades, preservation
The Antlers Inn and Grand Central Cafe in Kingsland are under new ownership as of Nov. 3. Two couples from Austin began negotiations with the previous owners of both in July and finalized the purchases last week.
The new owners plan changes for both but will preserve and protect the history and integrity of the buildings. A community space on the property is also in the works. The inn and restaurant are located next to each other at 1001 King Court and 1010 King court, respectively.
The inn’s previous owners, Drew Gerencer and Rick Gregory, opted to sell for health reasons and retirement. They had been leasing the cafe, which had separate owners.
The group purchasing both businesses consists of Courtney and Mike Rhodes and Simon Madera and wife Hobie Sasser.
According to plans, renovations should start immediately with the first phase of upgrades completed by the summer of 2023. Both businesses will remain open throughout the process.
The Antlers Inn is a Texas Historic Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Both designations protect it from heavy alterations.
Mike Rhodes, who runs Arrowhead Construction in Austin, told DailyTrib.com he leapt at the opportunity to purchase the inn after his wife discovered it was for sale over the summer.
“I love the community out here,” Rhodes said. “This is such a special property.”
Rhodes and his family have a second home on Lake LBJ and spend much of their time in the Highland Lakes. He said he will personally oversee the planned upgrades.
Madera operates the Austin-based Taco Flats restaurant chain and will handle the management of the Kingsland restaurant and hotel.
“I love the potential of the property and the opportunity to bring my experience here,” he said.
Both Rhodes and Madera emphasized that this was not just an investment; they plan to be completely involved in the operation and renovation of the businesses.
“We are not a development company coming in here to reshape the landscape or bring an absentee-owner mindset,” Madera explained. “This is a hands-on approach.”
While the design details are still being finalized, plans include an elevated menu at Grand Central Cafe, upgrades to the inn, and a “town square” on the property that would host concerts, Christmas celebrations, and market days.
“Our intention is to take a substantial amount of this property and basically turn it into a community space,” Rhodes said. “We feel like Kingsland doesn’t really have that.”
The Antlers Inn opened in 1901 and accommodated turn-of-the-century travelers on the Austin and Northwestern Railroad. Over the next century, it changed hands several times and went through various stages of operation before Gerencer and Gregory took over in 2015. They began operating Kingsland Coffee, inside the hotel, in 2009 and Grand Central Cafe in 2012 before purchasing The Antlers.
“It’s a bittersweet moment,” Gerencer told DailyTrib.com. “It feels good to move on with life, but we’ll definitely miss working with the public. Rick and I both really want to thank the community for the support for the last 10 years, and we’ll really miss them.”
Gerencer cited health concerns and Gregory’s impending retirement as reasons for the sale. He noted that Rhodes and Madera were easy to work with and believes they will fit in with the Kingsland community.
3 thoughts on “New owners of Antlers Inn and Grand Central plan upgrades, preservation”
Rick and Drew did a fantastic job with the Antlers. The new owners seem to have great ideas. Hope that they can get staff to help them achieve their dreams. Could be a great addition to the growing community.
If it’s not Austin people, it’s people from California bringing their big money here & it’s not for the better.
Did you read the whole thing Mitch? They are from Austin and have a lake house out here. Doesn’t sound like California to me
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