FORT MILL -- Inn at Baxter, a restaurant and tavern in Baxter Village, has no plans of closing its doors, despite being listed for sale late last year, owner Fred Bahr said.
"We are not closing our restaurant," Bahr said emphatically Thursday afternoon.
Rumors and rampant speculation on the restaurant's future have swirled in recent weeks after the for sale listing, with a $2.2 million price tag, popped up on a real estate Web site in December. Bahr said he, his wife Judy and their business partners decided to list the property quietly while considering investment opportunities. But closing the tavern, located in the Baxter's TownCenter, is not seriously being considered, he said.
However, the real estate listing recently found its way onto a Baxter Village online message board and a local publication, confusing customers about the restaurant's future.
Bahr said all reservations and events planned this year at the restaurant will be honored and events are still being booked.
Inn attracts fine diners
After opening in the fall of 2005, the 200-seat Inn became one of the first large fine-dining establishments in York County. The Bahrs told The Herald shortly after opening the restaurant they hoped to catch diners who normally migrated to uptown Charlotte looking for a higher-class meal.
Fred Bahr, who also is the head chef at the Inn, is a former culinary instructor at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte and trained under renowned Washington, D.C., chef Michel Richard. Judy Bahr previously worked as a concierge at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
While the recent rumors have called into question the restaurant's future, other businesses in the area are booming.
Six Pence Pub and Fratelli's Italian restaurant both have opened in Baxter within the past year or so, and Beef O'Brady's sports bar, the first restaurant to open in the town center, is in the middle of an expansion. Owner Michael Hunt said after Baxter Cleaners moved across the street, he decided to expand his pub into the space. The remodeling, which includes a banquet room and new TVs, will add an additional 1,275 square feet to his business.
"We're just always so busy," he said. "It's really gonna help us."
Hunt said he hopes the Inn at Baxter can remain prosperous, noting the increase of area restaurants coupled with residential growth is a plus for everyone in Baxter's town center.
"I think an upscale, large dining area restaurant is a new concept in that area," Rob Youngblood, director of the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce, said about the Inn Thursday. He said the Inn's location is ripe for growth with an expanding population of high-income, affluent residents.
"They took a big step, but it's the right market," he said. "I just think it's a concept people in York County are still getting used to."