Originally, in 1906, a barber shop stood at the corner of 6th and F Street in Rupert. Over the next 100 years, the location housed two banks, a cigar store, candy shop, jewelry store, shoe store, pool room, craft shop and a series of restaurants.
Today, Henry’s at the Drift Inn is a popular restaurant, bar and banquet hall. The menu includes prime rib and the Drift Inn’s famous finger steaks.
“The restaurant business is a tough business, but we’ve been busy. Things are on the right track,” said Charlie Creason, who purchased the restaurant in 2004 with his wife Lori. Charlie had spearheaded the Rupert Renaissance Initiative and decided that renovating the Drift Inn seemed like a way to also help Rupert economically.
“I’ve owned businesses before, so that’s not really it. It was about restoring a building and making Rupert a better community,” he said.
While it’s been a lot of hard work to renovate the Drift Inn, Creason says it’s been worth it.
“We say ‘Cool,’ but we have to stop and take stock every now and then. You have to remind yourself how much work it’s taken to get where it is,” he said.
The Creasons, along with 11 investors, have big plans for the Drift Inn, starting with a recent renovation that transformed the interior with a bright, welcoming décor.
“It doesn’t even look like the same place,” Creason said.
“It’s very nice. It’s done in very good taste. It’s got a bistro café feel to it,” said Suzanne Burton, the Drift Inn’s day manager.
The Creasons also added outdoor patio seating, for when weather permits. Next, the couple plans to update the kitchen and remodel the banquet room, which hosts get-togethers for up to 40 people.
“We’ve got the downstairs about 90 percent restored,” Creason said. “We completely redid the front and back of the corner building. We put the windows and the high ceilings back in. It’s being restored to the type of ambiance when it was originally built in 1917.”
Within the next three years, the Creasons and the investors plan to turn the building’s second story into a bed and breakfast.
“We’ve started some of the demolition, but we haven’t started putting it back together yet,” Creason said. “It seems like a good way to utilize the rest of the building. Small towns and inns seem to work pretty well. Hopefully, it will be a nice place for people to stay.”
Having traveled extensively, Creason says that small town inns are the way to go. He believes that creating a bed and breakfast will be a great way to restore Rupert’s oldest building while also providing accommodations for visitors. The building’s second story once housed various professional offices and cafés. Many of the restaurant’s customers recall visiting those offices.
“There are people who remember going to the dentist, doctor and hair dresser. They remember going upstairs,” Creason said. “Some remember coming with their parents to have an ice cream float in Cousin Roy’s café.”
With its character restored and a modern touch defined, the Drift Inn is set to make another century’s worth of memories.
PLANNING TO GO?
The Drift Inn
Northwest corner of Rupert Square (545 F Street).
Call in advance for weekend dinner reservations: 208-436-1300.