GUILFORD, Maine — When Paul Zimmerman and Martha Ward wanted to buy the original Red Maple Inn after operating the restaurant and lounge for two years, negotiations fell through.
But as the old saying goes, when one door closes — another opens.
In December 2012, they bought the former Braeburn Hotel annex from the town of Guilford which had acquired it for non-payment of taxes. “It’s one of the oldest buildings in town, dating back to the 1830s,” Zimmerman said. “It was the first hotel in the town of Guilford.”
Once known as the Franklin House and later as Weatherbee’s Hardware, it was a coin-operated laundry with some apartments before the couple bought it last winter. It was also in rough shape.
“I gutted the whole building and did a lot of jacking and structural work,” Zimmerman said. They fixed the existing heating system well enough to get through the winter, but eventually had to replace it.
Then the major inside construction work got under way to create a kitchen, bar, dining room and entertainment area. “Paul designed and built the bar and we’re always getting compliments on how nice it looks,” Ward said. She still holds a full-time job as comptroller at Nickerson and O’Day, a Brewer general contractor.
Once the Red Maple Inn debuted at its new location, the regulars started showing up immediately and new customers are coming in almost daily, said the couple. They give a lot of credit for the inn’s success to Kelly Morin, who has been with them since the beginning.
“I enjoy dealing with the public and making them feel at home,” said Morin.
She compiles a list of her regular customers’ birthdays; and once a month, she brings out a cake for everyone to celebrate. “She’s the glue that keeps us going,” Ward said with a smile.
Zimmerman also credits Town Manager Tom Goulette for his pro-business attitude. “In my opinion, Tom is the best town manager in Maine. He wants business to come to town, and he supports the ones that are already here,” Zimmerman said.
Work is still going on at the complex as one first-floor apartment will be converted into a coin-operated laundry and the equipment will be installed by Dave’s World in Dover-Foxcroft. Rooms are being renovated upstairs for overnight accommodations; and eventually there will be a deck built on the back of the building and the yard landscaped.
The Red Maple Inn has entertainment every weekend with local talent showcased on Thursday nights with no cover charge. Some of the most popular bands in northern New England have been on the Red Maple Inn stage including the Mallet Brothers, the Kelly Parker Band, Emerald Sky and the Still Waters Band.
Food is served seven days a week starting at 11 a.m. opening time, and breakfast items are served all day.
Away from the business side, Zimmerman is a strong advocate for veterans.
He served in the U.S. Army and National Guard in the 1980s, and has numerous veterans in his family including his father and brothers.
“I try to give back to the community at every opportunity,” Zimmerman said. “My personal goal is to see the name of any soldier from Guilford who served in a war zone placed on the Guilford Veteran’s Memorial. We’re working on some fundraisers to make it happen.”
For entertainment updates and daily menu specials, visit the Red Maple Inn on Facebook.