Skaneateles The Mandana Inn restaurant on West Lake Road has been a destination restaurant — a Skaneateles Lake institution — for more than 100 years. On April 6, after three months closed for building restoration work, the Inn will reopen for its first full year with a new owner, new chef and enhanced menu and wine list with an emphasis on using local products and producers.
“People will definitely recognize it; it’s not a drastic change. We’re freshening it up, is the word,” said owner James Hares of the restaurant’s physical improvements. “The menus have all been enhanced but everyone will still be able to order all the classic favorites.”
Hares purchased the Mandana Inn last July from owners Joseph and Gracia Koziol, who had run the business for more than 50 years. The change was a comfortable one for all involved and all the curious regular customers, however, since Hares had been a waiter and front of the house presence at the Mandana Inn for 26 years.
“This restaurant has always been warm and inviting, and I want to maintain that — keep it historic but very cottage-y,” Hares said. “There’s a lot of history in this building.”
The Mandana Inn originally was built in 1793 as a stagecoach stop, and in 1835 was established as a restaurant, Hares said.
Any historic building needs eventual restoration work both inside and outside, and most new business owners like to put their own stamp on their new endeavors. The Mandana Inn under Hares has been a “work in progress” since he took over last July, but it’s been during the annual winter closing period after New Year’s that most of the work has been done, Hares said.
During the past three months, contractors have been busy freshening up and “enhancing” the historic restaurant. The exterior received a new paint job, many new windows, a new front façade and front porch (all historically correct to the colonial period) and a new handicapped-accessible ramp.