It is one of the most historic landmarks in Jamestown, by way of a business, and while many things from the past might come and go, the historic National Hotel is not one of them.
Recently acquired by entrepreneur Edy Headley, the new owner shared she is proud to be the first female proprietor since the hotel was first opened in 1859.
“I’m super excited about it. It’s amazing,” Headley said of transitioning ownership from Steven Willey, the former owner of 47 years.
A story which is almost serendipitous by nature, Headley shared she did not arrive in Jamestown early this year in search of a new business, new home and new career. To the contrary, she arrived at The National Hotel in early January as a guest, seeking rest and recharge from her life in San Luis Obispo.
Resident of the central coast town since the early 1990s, Headley said she had retired from 27 years as a dental assistant, which led her to work in home healthcare. With a client up in age, the empty nester had made the trip to relax, yet was uncertain what was next for her.
“I just started praying for God to show me, where I should come next,” she said, noting that with her children now grown and succeeding in life, she was uncertain as to where her life would lead.
According to the new owner, it was the influence and knowledge of National Hotel longtime bartender/mixologist, Rhonda Munroe who got her wheels spinning. Stating Munroe toured her around the property upon her check-in and showed her to her room, the bartender was freely sharing history and fun facts of the 163-year-old building. Concluding with for the right amount of money it could be hers.
“I was super excited,” Headley said.
So much so she extended her stay by a few days to check things out and truly consider if this was something she really wanted to do.
While her primary background was in dentistry, Headley had spent a stint of time owning and operating a gourmet deli in Edna, California. Located in a 1905 mercantile, the businesswoman shared she’s always had a long-time love for old buildings and their charm, as well as the food industry.
“It just almost became intoxicating, this building, this adventure,” she said of contemplating the purchase.
Not one to jump the gun, over the course of the next month she had discussions with Willey and also visited every other week to get a true feel for the business as well as the area.
Once her offer was accepted and transition plans put in place, the new owner was quick to reassure staff there would be no changes, only additions, to the staff to accommodate her future business plans. She also has no intention or interest in making any changes to the building.
“It’s an absolute gem. It’s absolutely incredibly beautiful. The history is phenomenal,” she said. “To be honest, I don’t know what we would possibly change.”
Headley may not have plans of changing her staff and structure; however, she does have exciting changes planned for the business. A big impact will be made in the National restaurant and saloon, with plans of being open seven days a week. A fact the new owner said she felt important with its adjacency to the hotel. The goal once open seven days will be to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, with brunch being served on Sundays.
“There’s so much history here. For the saloon, we’re going to have a Happy Hour in the Gold Rush Saloon, which is what it was originally called,” she said.
As the focus on the food will continue, increasing the kitchen help as well as adding an additional bartender and bar back will also be needed for the new business model.
“Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday’s menu will be different from the traditional menu,” she said. “Just really bringing in the local community. That’s kind of my biggest focus right now.”
Those menu “differences” will include: Tuesday Tacos and Margaritas, but not the regular street taco. Tacos with a little more flare like lobster and shrimp tacos. Mainly focusing on a higher end taco. Wednesday will be Burgers and Brew — huge gourmet hamburgers and eight more taps for beer will be added. Saturday mornings and continuing until about 3 p.m. will be Saturday Motherlode, “outrageous Bloody Mary’s” loaded with a variety of unique toppings, seafood, crab, lobster, antipasto, grilled cheese sandwich. The Bloody Mary’s will be mixed by Mixologist Munroe, who holds a number of awards for her Bloody Mary’s as well as a patent on her mixture.
“We’re just going to really elaborate on that,” Headley said of the community focus. “Those are things we’re working currently on. I’m working with the Chef and two other marketers to make sure we can buy the best products because that’s what we want.”
Lastly, the historian enthusiast shared her excitement of bringing the “Local Executive Membership Club” to the venue. Each night patrons come in with the card they can receive up to two beers per visit for $3, or two glasses of wine for $3 per night.
Live music on the patio has also been added during the week and weekends, which is being enjoyed by patrons.
“We have great events. A lot more locals are coming in. I’m just excited about it, being here in Jamestown,” Headley said. “It has this nostalgia; you can’t surpass it.”
The hotel portion of the building will remain intact as it has been since its inception. The property hosts nine rooms, complete with the 1859 décor and each with its own bathroom. Guests are also privy to the “soaking room,” which features a two-person clawfoot tub. There is also a shared balcony on the top floor where hotel guests can enjoy a beverage in the evening or nice cup of coffee in the morning.
As for the charm and her love for the building, Headley cannot seem to say enough about all of its attributes.
“The bar is just amazing. People love to come down there and stay and talk,” she said.
“I’m not changing anything at all (in the bar),” Headley continued. “I think the bar is probably the most beautiful bar I’ve ever been in. I say that because it has history. The history is so rich. I couldn’t even imagine changing anything, nor the restaurant.”