Prominent property changes hands

By Amy Fawe, Shaun Moriarty, and Laurie Schlatter
Citizen Chronicle Writers

SOUTHBRIDGE — The Vienna Restaurant & Historic Inn has changed hands once again, the property’s future in the hands of a new owner.

Purchased in 2002 by Lisa Krach and Bayview Loan Servicing LLC, the three-story inn offered a continental cuisine in an upscale setting and built a reputation as a local town favorite. Hit by fire last Nov. 17, the inn sustained an estimated $75,000 in damage. The fire detectors were not working, the owner said, so no one was alerted until it became a 3-alarm fire. Two people were inside and quickly left. No injuries were reported. The inn was closed as a result of the fire, though the Vienna’s website assured visitors it would be “reopening soon!” The inn’s Facebook page reaffirmed plans to reopen in a Nov. 18 post.

A change of course was publicly announced by the inn’s Facebook page, noting that “Vienna is permanently CLOSED after 16 Wunderbar Years.” The post goes on to explain the inn’s demise is the result of the “horrible and untimely fire we experienced just a couple days before Thanksgiving.” Later in that post, the now former owners expressed gratitude for surviving the fire and for community support over the years.

During its life as the Vienna, the South Street property saw many guests, both from town and around the world. Among the notable guests were comedian and actor Bill Murray, Camping World CEO and host of MSNBC’s “The Profit” Marcus Lemonis, MLB Network analyst and sports journalist Brian Kenny, and former NFL offensive lineman Marques Ogden.

On Jan. 22, the property was sold by Bayview Loan Servicing LLC for $30,000 to Peter Hauge Jr., whose address is listed as 14 South St. on the deed transfer in the Worcester County Register of Deeds. The 8,000-square-foot property boasts 26 rooms with eight bedrooms and seven bathrooms.

At least one local business was stunned upon learning the property has been sold. In a Facebook post, the Metro Bistro, a restaurant also on Main Street, wrote, “The Vienna Historic Inn and Restaurant of Southbridge, who convinced us to open The Metro Bistrot in 2013, is no more. Their story is a tragedy played out over two years starting with their disastrous appearance on Gordon Ramsay’s Hotel Hell television series.”

Two years ago, the inn hosted Gordon Ramsay and the TV show, “Hotel Hell.” During filming, Mr. Ramsay apparently had nothing good to say, though the Krach family asserted the episode was edited to portray a negative light on the inn.

“I just want to say thank you to all are [sic] very loyal and wonderful friends and customers over the past 14 years. It was a very difficult decision for us to participate. We thought we were making an educated decision based on our skills, our hard work and our faithful clientele base. The portrayal of the Vienna deeply saddens our entire staff and family,” Mrs. Krach wrote on social media in response to the television episode. “Thank you for all the kind comments, wishes and letters of support. We truly are incredibly appreciative of your time and passion for the Austro-Hungarian and German traditions we’ve tried to preserve. This too shall pass. As for the Gordon lovers in the Vienna haters God bless you all. We need to get back to work.”

More than 150 years old, at the crossroads of Main and South streets, the structure was once the longtime home of multiple generations of the Delahanty family. It later was home to the late Claire J. Birtz, a local art teacher who designed and, in the 1930s, painted the Town Seal that hangs in the Robert G. MacKinnon Council Chambers at Town Hall. Birtz passed away in 2000 at the age of 92.

According to town assessor records, Lisa Krach and Bayview bought the property for $325,000 on Nov. 12, 2002, from Margaret Morrissey and Gabriel J. McCarthy, who had purchased it in 2000 for $112,000 from Sandra Lee Tremblay. She and Ronald E. Tremblay had purchased it during the 1980s for $90,000 from DMR Corp.

In 2017, the property valuation was assessed by the town at $271,600, generating tax revenue for the town of $5,587 paid by the owner. Assessor records further indicate replacement value last year at $371,443.

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