The historic Mark West Lodge near Santa Rosa is up for sale for $2 million, but the venue with the giant grapevines over the roadway will remain open for weddings and other events.
Managing partner Jack Martin said he will honor existing bookings and is accepting new ones for the sake of his clients, himself and a future buyer.
“I do believe that my buyer is going to want to continue the business,” Martin said Friday. “It just makes sense to keep it going.”
He said his existing clients have “put a lot of faith in him” to provide a venue for their celebrations, some of which are booked into 2012. And for himself, Martin said, by continuing operations he “enhances the value of the property.”
The lodge was built in the 1870s on the site of a former trading post. Over the years it has served as a mineral spa resort, a roadhouse and a restaurant.
Fire destroyed the lodge in 1979 while it was home to an elegant French restaurant. But the grapevines that stretch over Mark West Springs Road survived, and owner Rene Pavel re-opened the restaurant in 1981. The business closed upon the death of Pavel in 1987, and the lodge went through a succession of owners over the next 15 years.
Martin’s limited partnership bought the lodge in 2002. News reports put the sales price between $1.3 and $1.8 million — Martin declined to state the exact price Friday. During the next nine years, the partnership put about $1 million more into improving the property as an event center, he said.
The lodge features a dining room, main bar, deck, patio and a garden for outdoor ceremonies. Two years ago, Martin opened a second location on the 7-acre property for what he called “a more casual outdoor venue.”
He said he first considered selling about three months ago when real estate agents approached him. He decided to seek a buyer partly because “I have a short attention span.”
“Actually 10 years is quite a long time for me to have spent on one project,” he said. “And I’m ready to move on.”
Martin is seeking a buyer who wants to run “a feel-good business” in the historic landmark.
“I think someone could do even more than I have,” he said.
Charlene Schnall of Sotheby’s International in Healdsburg has the listing.
— Robert Digitale