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Restaurant entrepreneur details risks, rewards at YPS CEO luncheon

Peter Rosskothen, Co-Owner and President, The Log Cabin & Delaney House and Owner and President, D. Hotel & Suites, speaks at the February 2014 YPS CEO Luncheon.
Peter Rosskothen, Co-Owner and President, The Log Cabin & Delaney House and Owner and President, D. Hotel & Suites, speaks at the February 2014 YPS CEO Luncheon.Christine Parizo

At the February CEO luncheon held by the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield (YPS), young professionals and entrepreneurs braved the still-slick roads today, February 6 to hear Peter Rosskothen, co-owner and president of The Log Cabin & Delaney House and owner and president, D. Hotel & Suites, speak about turning around a bankrupt property into a top dining destination. Over beef tenderloin and asparagus, YPS members learned how he created a dining, event and hotel destination for Western Massachusetts.

“I believe today I’m still in business because I know numbers,” Rosskothen said. As a finance major in his native Columbia, he learned business, which has helped him immensely as a restaurateur, where many owners are less business-focused and more product-focused. But that doesn’t mean he’s not committed to providing the best dining experience possible, from food to customer service.

He looked for opportunities in Western Massachusetts to purchase a business over a decade ago, and he came across the Log Cabin, a banquet facility perched above Easthampton, up for auction. He turned it into a premier event site – but the best was yet to come.

In 2003, The Delaney House, a popular fine dining and event establishment, filed for bankruptcy. Rosskothen swooped in and went through several periods of trial and error with the new property. First, he attempted to turn it into strictly a banquet facility, building on the success of the Log Cabin. Next, he tried a fancy fusion restaurant. “Western Massachusetts is not a fancy high-end fusion environment,” he said. In the first two years, Rosskothen and his then-partner lost $800,000.

But then he hit the winning formula: a two-restaurant building with banquet facilities. The Delaney House actually boast The Delaney Grill, a higher-end restaurant, and The Mick, a casual dining environment that often includes live music. He credits the success of the facility to innovative ideas, like the bimonthly “Lift Your Spirits” spa nights and “Kids Cooking Class” evenings that lets parents dine while children ages 6-10 learn to cook. Rosskothen also greatly appreciates his staff, and at the lunch, he spotted Sam, a 10-year employee who started working for him while she was still in high school and is now working her way through college.

“I want to lose Sam because she graduates from college (not) because someone down the street pays $1 more than me,” he said.

The latest piece of Rosskothen’s acquisitions was the hotel next door to the Delaney House, a former Country Inn and Suites franchise. This hotel was in need of TLC, which Rosskothen was happy to provide to ensure that his bridal party guests in particular would have a first-class place for guests. When he bought the hotel, it was in danger of being leased out to the government, which would then fill it with homeless families, he noted. He wanted to prevent that. “I bought it as a protective move,” he said, also noting that buying the hotel helped protect The Delaney House brand.

For Rosskothen, overcoming challenges means staying on top of changes in the wedding business, The Delaney House’s bread and butter when it comes to events, and meeting the needs of Western Massachusetts residents who want a fine dining experience. As evidenced by the fact that The Delaney Grill requires reservations or a half-hour wait for a table on weekends, he’s definitely succeeded.