An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
May 10, 2014
06:54 AMThe Connecticut Table
New Owners of Connecticut’s White Hart Include Star Chef Annie Wayte
It was confirmed Friday afternoon that The White Hart inn, which was closed precipitously in fall 2010 after a $5 million renovation, has been sold and will soon resume its role as a center for community gatherings.
The inn, which dates to the opening decade of the 19th century, has long been a welcoming haven for locals, second-home owners and visitors. It closing left a whole in the community’s fabric that never truly was mended.
But, according to Realtor Pat Best of Best and Cavallaro, who brokered the deal, the new owners “all want to return it to being a community center. They sincerely want to see that happen.”
Best said the new owners are “a great group, very exciting.” She added that she has not met all the new owners—about eight persons who have ties to the Northwest Corner—but said that one is well-known chef Annie Wayte, a native of England who has worked at a number of high-profile restaurants.
Her website says Wayte “began her professional cooking career in the haute cuisine kitchen of London’s Mirabelle. She went on to work as a chef at the Michelin-starred Rue St. Jacques and at London’s renowned Clarke’s. In 1994, Annie opened Nicole’s on London’s New Bond Street and replicated it in 1999 in New York City. She launched the trendy Notting Hill café 202, a New York version of which opened in May 2005.”
That New York restaurant was located in designer Nicole Farhi's Notting Hill store.
According to her website, Wayte embraces the culture of sharing a meal with friends and family,” drawing not only from her English roots, but also from culinary traditions focusing on Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines.
“She is into fresh, not fussy foods,” said Best. “She will be a partner and create the menu.”
Best reported that Conley Rollins, who works in New York City in asset investment management, is the partner who pulled together the new group of investors.
The inn was previously owned by Scott and Roxanne Bok of Salisbury and New York City, who purchased the White Hart in 1998, reportedly for less than the debt carried by the venerable inn. Mr. Bok and his wife reportedly purchased the inn, which has struggled over the decades, to keep it open.
In 2010, the Boks decided on a major renovation of the property, reducing the number of guest suites to 15 and reconfiguring the common areas on the ground floor. They converted the former lobby to a dining area, formalized more dining space in the Hunt Room, which had previously been used only for special events, and moved the reception desk to the rear of the building, behind the dining area.