Inn at Baxter closes its doors

FORT MILL -- Fort Mill's Inn at Baxter restaurant and tavern has closed, the owner's real estate agent confirmed Tuesday.

"The owners made a decision on Sunday to close it," said William Chafin Jr. of Coldwell Banker United in Charlotte, the listing agent for the property.

Owners Fred and Judy Bahr hope to sell the property to another restaurateur, Chafin said. While Chafin has had some "serious discussions" with potential buyers, he said a sale has not been finalized.

Fred Bahr declined to comment when reached by The Herald. But a sign posted near the main entrance read: Closed "until further notice." The menu still hung on the door. Nearby, pieces of outdoor furniture sat empty.

It was reported earlier this month that the Bahrs had listed the 6,500-square-foot Baxter Village business on the market for $2.2 million.

Fred Bahr said then that he didn't plan to close.

Customer Angela Stewart of Fort Mill, who had reserved a private dining room for a christening party on Sunday, said the Bahrs had assured her two days ago that "everything was fine."

She discovered by happenstance Tuesday that the Inn was closed. So she called the Bahrs.

"Three hours later, he called and said everything was off," she said.

The family has since arranged to have the party elsewhere.

Chafin said the Inn, which opened in the fall of 2005, struggled because of its large size. He said most fine dining places in the Charlotte area don't exceed 150 seats. The inn's dining room seats 291.

"There are very few fine dining, white linen, fine cuisine restaurants in the country that size," Chafin said. "That's enormous."

But Chafin doesn't expect the building to sit dormant for long. He said its location in popular Baxter Village will help attract a new owner with a new concept.

While he wouldn't speculate on what kind of restaurant would be interested, Chafin said a regional or national group would be a candidate. He also said the Bahrs had expressed interest in remaining in the business, although probably in a smaller setting.