The Brown County Inn has always been a popular spot for both those staying overnight and those just popping in for a meal. It seems like everyone, whether they know the name or not, can always recall that “place on the corner of the edge of town.” The Brown County Inn has built a reputation for itself, that even though its ownership has changed, its legacy as a Brown County classic will continue.
Officially under new ownership since May, the Brown County Inn has already gotten a facelift, with many changes happening both inside and out! I had some time to talk with one of the new owners, Courtney Gosser, and got the scoop on the exciting new plans for the hotel.
A real family affair, the new owners of the Brown County Inn are comprised of a mom, dad, daughter, and husband combo. All driven and ambitious, these two power couples all bring something to the table based on their unique past experience.
Brown County has always been a special place for this family. Courtney explained that her family visited Brown County during the summers, a short drive from their home in Indianapolis. Not only did she attend summer camp here every year, but her parents also owned a cabin in the area.
When it was time for her parents, Barry and Deborah Herring, to retire about three years ago, they made the permanent move to Brown County, finally calling it home. However, as go-getting entrepreneurs (something they have done their entire lives), retirement just didn’t seem to suit them. While they loved the area and life in Brown County, something was missing. They needed a project!
Catching wind that the Brown County Inn was for sale through a friend, the Herrings began to contemplate if this was the big project they were looking for. With combined past experience in development, flipping properties, business ownership, and more, the Herrings felt like they had what it took to take on the Brown County Inn.
It was when Courtney and her husband, Dietrich, were visiting for Christmas, that her parents mentioned their interest in the Brown County Inn and their new idea of buying it. Excited about the opportunity, but unsure if they could do it alone, Courtney recalls hearing one simple phrase that put a bug in her ear, “we couldn’t do it by ourselves.” Taking it as a hint, Courtney talked it over with her husband and they decided to jump on board!
With Courtney and Dietrich’s previous experience in restaurant and bar service, management, and cooking, working with her parents to own the Brown County Inn seemed like a perfect fit. “It just kind of came into our laps,” said Courtney. “It seemed like fate in a way. We knew we couldn’t say no to the opportunity. Instead of managing restaurants and bars, we could own our own.”
Five months after discussing the project with her family during the holidays, Courtney and Dietrich uprooted their lives in Wisconsin and moved to Brown County to join her parents. “A lot of things just came together and it just felt right,” she said. “We’ve got no regrets and are excited about this opportunity.”
“My parents are very driven, entrepreneurial people. I think they always wanted a family legacy and a way to give back to the local Brown County community, which we love,” explained Courtney. “With our help it was a no brainer for them to take on the project and without them starting things up, we wouldn’t be here today.”
Playing on their wide variety of experience, the Herrings and Gossers have taken on different roles as owners and are getting settled in. Courtney explained that her dad, Barry, was the one that brokered the deal and will focus most of his attention on renovation, construction, and contractor management. Meanwhile her mom, Deborah, will be in charge of general hotel management, including running the front desk, as well as will take on most of the design aspects both inside and outside.
With their previous restaurant experience, Courtney and Dietrich will be the friendly faces you will see managing the restaurant. While Dietrich will run the restaurant and put his cooking skills to the test in the kitchen, Courtney will help with bar and restaurant management, in addition to overall sales for the hotel. Seems like this family has got it all figured out!
So what are the new owners’ big plans for the Brown County Inn? Well, one trip over to the property and you’ll be able to tell that they’ve already rolled up their sleeves and gotten busy…plus they have plenty more projects in the works. Courtney explained that they’ve already replaced the hotel’s computers and phone system, added Wi-Fi Internet connection, added new flat screen TVs and phones to the rooms, installed some new doors around the place, and more.
“The grounds are beautiful and the bones of the business are great,” said Courtney. “But it just needed a facelift.” The new owners are hoping to bring it back to more modern times while still keeping the property’s historic, antique, and very “Brown County” feel.
Right now they are down and dirty working on landscaping, with big plans to transform the outdoor area into a perfect place for relaxing or hosting an event. Updating the playground area and expanding a space for kids to enjoy is on the docket, as well as a garden that will not only be an peaceful place for guests to walk, but also will provide the kitchen with some home-grown produce to incorporate into their menu. The new owners also are hoping to create an outdoor event space with a tent for weddings, parties, or retreats.
As if that wasn’t enough, the Herrings and Gossers have started making changes to the restaurant’s menu too! Courtney explained that they trying to move in a more healthy direction. Don’t worry…all your favorite Brown County Inn classics will still be on the menu, but so will some healthier options as well. Using more local produce and food suppliers, including food from their own garden, will automatically make the menu fresher!
Since it’s the busy summer season now and fall tourists will soon be flocking to the area, Courtney explained that they plan to work on the outside of the building and do small renovations inside as they can without getting in the way of visitors.
“We walked into a working hotel, so we’ll be ready for the busier months ahead,” she said. “We’ll do what we can to update things without disturbing our guests.”
As soon as things slow down, the new owners have major renovation plans for the inside of the property. After the first of the year, the hotel will shut down for a short period of time so that all renovations to rooms and common areas can be made. When it re-opens, the Brown County Inn will have a new look, but with the same great history and service.
“A lot of the core staff is still here and we’re extremely thankful for that,” explained Courtney. “Some people have been working here or staying here for 20 years and while there may be new ownership, it’s not about that. It’s about the building; it’s such a magical place.”
Courtney encourages everyone to check out the Brown County Inn’s transformation. “People should come and see what we’re up to,” she said. “They can watch as we grow and can even help us move forward into what we should become.”
“The Brown County Inn really is an oasis on the outskirts of town,” said Courtney. “You get the downtown feel of the shops and community, but you still get the seclusion and natural atmosphere with all the hills behind us.”
Proud to be a new owner of the Brown County Inn, Courtney is excited about where things are headed. “I wouldn’t trade this opportunity for the world. I can’t believe all the little things along the way have led to this, especially since it’s in the community that I spent so much time in as a kid,” she said. “I’m glad and privileged to be a part not only of this town, but also this project.”
Be sure to stay tuned for more updates on what’s in store next for the Brown County Inn and stop by the next time you’re around to see the new owners’ work in progress!
Brown County Inn:
51 IN-46, Nashville, IN 47448