Afton House Inn recognized by state hospitality organizationThe owners and operators of one of the state's most historic hotels were inducted into the Minnesota Restaurant’s Hospitality Hall of Fame late last year, after more than 30 years of blood, sweat and tears poured into
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
Gordy and Kathy Jarvis bought a rundown hotel 33 years ago. The electrical work was shot, the plumbing was broken and there were leaks in the roof.
But after more than three decades of blood, sweat and tears the Jarvises, who live in Lakeland, have turned the Afton House Inn into the oldest operating hotel in Minnesota and one of the state’s top-ranked destinations.
For their efforts and the Afton House Inn’s impact on the hospitality industry the Jarvises were inducted into the Minnesota Restaurant’s Hospitality Hall of Fame Nov. 23 at Jax Café in Minneapolis.
“We’ve done stuff for the industry itself,” Gordy Jarvis said. “They’re honoring us for the amount of time we put into it, and what we’ve given back.”
Previous hall of fame inductees include other Twin Cities mainstays such as Tinucci’s Restaurant and Lounge, Murray’s Restaurant, Mancini’s Char House and Lounge, and Jax Café.
Bringing it back to life
Gordy Jarvis began his career in the restaurant business at 12 years old as a dish washer for Rocco’s Restaurant in St. Paul. Over the years he worked his way up through the ranks from link cook to banquet chef to head chef to general manager.
In 1976, Gordy Jarvis and his wife, high school sweetheart Kathy, decided to embark on a new venture when they bought the Afton House Inn.
The property, which was built in 1867 and had only 12 rooms and two small dining areas, presented a challenge for the young couple.
“One of the things that inspired us was that our goal was to one day bring the Afton House back to what it was originally used for,” Gordy Jarvis said.