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Badin Inn looks to return to past with new owners

The Badin Inn, a historic landmark dating to 1913, has seen better days in recent years.

However, it has received another chance at a new life.

After a string of owners with different purposes for the property came and went, a new mother-daughter team purchased the buildings. They are leasing some of the grounds and have big plans.

Badin residents Vanessa Mullinix, and her daughter, Jennifer Owens, have purchased the three buildings at the Badin Inn along with part of the grounds surrounding. They are leasing 41 acres of the former golf course.

The inn is open as a working hotel with six rooms available, but the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the pair hard as it did for most event venues in terms of cancellations.

Before the pandemic, the pair took over Badin Inn September of last year and had their first event after six weeks “of blood, sweat and tears” in getting the buildings ready, Owens said.

Much of the outdoor landscaping had to be cleaned up with a bush hog, but the inside of the buildings were in good shape, she added.

“The walls were still good. We didn’t have to do a lot of painting, which saved us,” Owens said.

The first event, a jazz festival as part of Better Badin’s 10 Days of Uwharrie, saw numerous people express appreciation to the duo for reopening the Badin Inn to events.

“(People) were just so appreciative that we stepped in and saved this beautiful part of not only Badin’s history but the whole county,” Owens said. “It’s the stories, the stories of people that this place has touched over the past 106 years.”

Acquiring A Piece of History

Mullinix credited Newport Landowner Services, a New London-based company, for its work in getting clear title to the buildings and lands.

“We just hit it off,” Mullinix said. “We are not money people. But it was something that just kept saying, ‘You can do this.’ God has blessed us time and time again.”

The buildings had no power or running water at the time of purchase but are fully operational now.

Guests can rent a room with a queen-size bed up to a two-bedroom, one-bath suite, including a daily continental breakfast.

Using a two-pronged approach, Badin Inn was able to be rented as an event venue while hosting its own dinners and other events.

“If we could build up to a point where we could have the place rented every weekend as a venue we would absolutely love that,” Owens said. “Our personal events allow us to showcase what we have to offer.”

Ecotourism

With the offerings locally at Morrow Mountain State Park and Badin Lake, Badin Inn will focus on offering different tie-ins for hiking, canoeing, kayaking and other outdoor activities.

The suites upstairs have new 40-inch televisions and cable while offering turndown service and other little touches.

Mullinix said the hotel has been open throughout the pandemic and has never shut down.

The hotel also offers discounts for members of the military, Owens said, “because I feel really strongly about our military right now.”

Interrupted by COVID-19

Just before the pandemic, Badin Inn hosted a Valentine’s Day oyster roast where it sold out all 150 tickets.

Owens credited a partnership with local seafood provider Hilltop Seafood with “doing a phenomenal job” of providing the food for the Valentine’s Day event. The event featured beer and wine sales along with live music.

The tide quickly turned a month later.

Like so many other businesses, the pandemic forced cancellations through September.

Mullinix said the hope also was for someone to come in who would run and lease the restaurant space in the ground floor of the three-story building, formerly the Johnny Palmer Grill.

The search continues for someone to lease it, but their efforts have been hampered by the pandemic.

“We never thought in a million years this would happen,” Owens said about the shutdown of live events. “It’s very disheartening. Of course, the safety of our guests is our number-one priority.”

Like other venues, rescheduling has had to take place, with many couples opting to get married at the courthouse than having an actual ceremony later.

One thing which has helped the Badin Inn has been the rental of four one-bedroom condominiums on the third floor of the bigger building, which are all currently occupied. Each condo has been modernized and contains a full kitchen and appliances.

The Community Responds

The struggles to reopen, Owens said, has been to reintroduce Badin Inn to the community and let people know about the ownership.

She said the response has been more positive “when people hear it’s a local mother-daughter team that’s trying to make this work.”

Owens worked at Badin Inn about 20 years ago and used to live in the townhouses right across the street.

“I helped set up for weddings and Sunday brunches. Eventually, I ran the bar before it burned down,” she said. “Never in a million years would I have thought I would be here. As someone who has seen the good and the bad throughout the years, talking to people and giving them that five-star service…is what we do for people.”

Improving on the Past, Looking to the Future

Eventually when travel opens more after the pandemic, Owens said the Badin Inn will offer corporate discounts for traveling executives as well.

Construction and repairs have continued at Badin Inn throughout the pandemic, including replacing the roof on the garage and other exterior work.

Future plans for the second floor of the larger building are still being made while outside the former golf course will be getting a new form of the sport.

Bryon Carter, head of the local disc golf association, and the new owners are looking to construct a disc golf course.

“We’re in good hands with that…it’s now just trying to prioritize that,” Owens said.

Other plans may include pontoon boat rentals and more forms of ecotourism.

“The more that we can add to our repertoire as we go along, the bigger ecotourism will be,” Owens said, adding the expansion of the nearby state park could also help.

All of the course’s former golf cart paths are open to the public as walking trails. The new owners ask for people to not ride bicycles and use skateboards on the paths due to liability.

A series of reservation-only dinners, which were shut down by COVID-19, may return in August.

Venue events might not be available but Mullinix said they encourage people to come and stay for the night.

“It’s not how far we go, it’s a change of scenery,” she said. “Come get back to nature.”

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio was the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press from 1999-2001 and has currently served in the same capacity since 2008. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also been honored twice by the North Carolina Press Association.

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