Six years ago, Louise and Stuart Oliver approached the Northampton Board of Supervisors about retrofitting the vacant Eastville Inn, and using it as catering and event venue. It made perfect sense. Always fresh and with a unique take on Eastern Shore cuisine, Louise Oliver already had a big following and was constantly booked for events. But, she had just outgrown her home kitchen.
The Eastville Inn fit the bill, with an industrial kitchen and large event space, it was perfect for the Oliver’s business plan.
Kitchen Sync was a huge success, providing weekly meals for pickup or delivery, but also hosting events for entities such as Riverside and the Nature Conservancy.
Still, the County was not satisfied. Even as it was apparent Kitchen Sync was successfully filling a void, Northampton pressured the Oliver’s to open a sit down lunch service. It should be noted that the County, not Eastville owns the building.
With lunch service plans in the works, the Covid pandemic hit, forcing Louise and Stuart to put the lunch counter idea on ice.
With so many folks homebound, Kitchen Sync once again stepped up, ramping up operations, and working extra hours to get meals to the folks that needed it most. In midst of all of this, Kitchen Sync has been covering the business with over 500 private clients.
Then a funny thing happened on the way to the forum.
Memos from the Eastville Town Council leaked out. It stated that the County was ready to move on from Kitchen Sync, and was instead looking for a long-term client, a 20-year lease, and someone that would turn the Inn into a full-time restaurant –breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This despite the fact that the Kitchen Sync business was successful, filled a void, and provided a unique service to the community, and that the Oliver’s maintained, painted, and performed some renovations in the six years they were in that space.
On June 23, after the closed session, Supervisor John Coker made a motion to terminate the Eastville Inn’s lease on September 30th, but would allow “the tenant to lease the property on a month-by-month basis if they so desire.”
The question became, why this move now? Did the County really think the Inn has the location, and foot traffic to really be successful? From a business and revenue standpoint, that seems doubtful.
In a conversation with Stuart Oliver, he told the Mirror, “Selling the old Inn is crazy. Why would they divest themselves of such a historical site. Once you sell, there’s no way to ensure that it will stay, will maintain its character…”
As it stands, Kitchen Sync has the Inn leased until January, 2022.