The Elm Inn stands out at Milford’s four corners, but it has stood vacant since closing in 2017.
“We kept driving by and we loved the building and the area,” said Kat and Dan Wifnosky. “We couldn’t figure out why it sat empty for so long. We had such vision for it.”
So they bought it in January of this year. They also packed their belongings to move from Illinois to Otsego County, where they bought a house in the Cherry Valley / Roseboom area, and are working feverishly on the Inn as they target a late March or early April opening for the reimagined landmark.
“We were looking for something we could afford and this is perfect,” Ms. Wifnosky said. “It’s gorgeous here. The pandemic changed everything we were used to. Our lives changed and we had to change.”
The couple has an interesting and varied background, with both in the information technology consulting business. They lived in New York’s Capital District, moved to Las Vegas, then to Illinois, and now to Milford.
“We have history in the hospitality arena as well, and The Elm Inn will let us complete our dream,” Ms. Wifnosky said. With a home that sits on 55 acres, she said the couple will cultivate the land for wine, a job she calls their “passion.”
As for The Elm Inn, the two have big plans.
“We see this as more of a community space,” said Dan Wifnosky. “Everyone seems excited that we’re reopening. It was a staple of the community in the past and we want to make it that again. We plan to recreate the space as a gathering place, complete with a coffee shop, tavern, and restaurant.”
“We understand the need for tourist business, but we plan to cater to the locals,” he said. “They are our neighbors, our staple. We plan on keeping everything as local as we can – local beers and wines, local farmers, local meats, local music.”
The Elm began its life in 1883 as The Central Hotel, then changed hands to become The Milford Tavern. The current structure holds six bedrooms almost ready to accept guests, a café that will offer coffees, baked goods, breakfast, and lunch, a restaurant, and the tavern.
“We’ll have a nice wine and beer list and a full bar when we get our liquor license,” Ms. Wifnosky said. “As far as the restaurant, people will see the traditional American comfort food plus some unexpected items on the menu. We won’t be classified as an Italian restaurant or steak house. A lot of our menu will be determined on what the local farmers have to offer.”
“Look for prime rib night to make a comeback!” she promised.
— Tara Barnwell contributed all reporting to this story.