Anchor Inn Hotel changes into familiar hands

Introducing Chris and Denise Callaghan, the proud new owners of the Anchor Inn Hotel. The Callaghans are the first proprietors in recent history to have Island roots. photo by Michael Erskine

LITTLE CURRENT—For nearly a quarter century Anchor Inn Hotel owners Bruce and Kelly O’Hare and their partner Rob Norris have worked successfully to grow their business every year. At a Monday afternoon staff meeting the owners announced that as of the end of June, they would be handing over the helm to new owners—and those new owners will be very familiar to the establishment’s patrons.

Chris and Denise Callaghan have bought out the partner’s shares in the corporation that is the Anchor Inn Hotel.

“I think that continuity is a good word,” said Mr. O’Hare, who stressed that the company will be “business as usual both up to and after the sale. The company will remain the same, it is just the shares that will be changing hands.”

“That was really important to us,” said Ms. O’Hare. “It was one of the stumbling blocks in finding a purchaser, a deal-breaker really, when prospective buyers wanted to come in and change staff.”

Ms. Callaghan will be a very familiar face to patrons of the Anchor Inn restaurant, having worked at the establishment for 15 years.

“I am excited, happy, proud…overwhelmed,” laughed Ms. Callaghan.

“You will always have us as backup,” assured Ms. O’Hare, as she moved to squelch any rumours the owners would be decamping for southern climes any time soon. “We like it here.”

The deal had been in the works since last September as a number of issues had to be worked out before the sale could be completed.

“The rumours have been going around,” noted Mr. O’Hare, “but we really couldn’t say anything until things had been confirmed. It would not have been fair to anybody.” Both the old owners and the new wanted their staff to be the first to “officially” learn of the sale.

Mr. Callaghan has given his notice at his place of employment and will be taking up a full time position with the hotel.

As for Mr. Norris, a familiar sight carrying a handyman’s toolkit around the building throughout the year, he said he is looking forward to getting “all the jobs I have been putting off at home done.”

The O’Hares have another business, Lakeshore Excursions, which has expanded significantly in recent years and Ms. O’Hare will be taking on a more active role in that operation.

The details of the sale are being kept confidential (i.e. sale price), but Ms. Callaghan did disclose that the funding for the purchase came from close to home. “I did go looking for financing off-Island, but it was Northern Credit Union that came through for us,” she said. “They have been great.”

Ms. Callaghan noted that the current owners have been very supportive of her plan to purchase the business. “Especially Bruce,” she said. “I could not have done this without them.”

There are no plans to change staff or make any other major changes to the business according to Ms. Callaghan. Not even a new paint scheme? “No,” she replies firmly.

Each of the owners, old and new, expressed their gratitude to their staff and reiterated a hope that the relationship will remain the same.

The Anchor Inn Hotel has been the go-to place for employment for young people on Manitoulin for decades. “There have been hundreds and hundreds of young people who have worked here to finance their education,” said Ms. O’Hare. “Many of them have even continued to work here even after they finished their school.”

Although the ownership of the hotel may be changing, the new owners have no intention of changing what has proven to be winning business model.

The catering side of the business will also remain the same.

“Continuity,” is the word.