4A The Williamson County Sun, March 12, 2014
Lodging opens in heart of downtown
Downstairs café to follow with fresh bread, pastries
By JOSH PHERIGO
Tucked into the sundrenched upstairs of a lime green house on Church Street, Sweet Lemon Inn offers travelers to the most beautiful downtown square in Texas something they have not had in a long time – a place to spend the night.
The inn, which opened Saturday, is the first of what city planners hope becomes a string of overnight lodges in Georgetown’s historic overlay district. As the city looks to bolster its claim as a regional tourism destination, officials have escalated their efforts to encourage new overnight accommodations in the city’s center.
Sweet Lemon is the kind of charming boutique hotel they envisioned. But not exactly what owners Kevin and Rachel Cummins first had in mind.
When the Georgetown couple bought the 96-year old house, they planned to turn it into a café. Rachel Cummins, who is in culinary school, wanted a street-level, neighborhood kitchen to turn farm-to-table ingredients into fresh breakfasts and lunches for the downtown crowd. But as plans for the café progressed, a question emerged.
What should they do with the rest of the house? “We thought, ‘Why not share it?” Ms. Cummins said Monday in the inn’s bright second-floor common room. Even on an overcast afternoon, sunlight pours through the windows and onto the pastel colors of the room. Honeycombed accent pillows adorn a plush, beige sofa on the north-facing wall. Directly across the room, French doors open to a master suite, one of two suites encompassing three bedrooms in the inn. The couple drew inspiration from a line in “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz.
The décor is meant to ínvoke a sense of the enchanted yellow-bricked land “where troubles melt like lemon drops,” Ms. Cummins said. “We wanted to create an environment that is happy,” she said. “Where people can come and feel carefree.”
Mr. Cummins and Ms. Cummins both grew up in the Austin area and both have hospitality backgrounds. Mr. Cummins, who works for the aerospace company Northrop Grumman Corporation, said he learned the business from his parents, who own Austin restaurants.
Mrs. Cummins said she has worked in restaurants for years as a hostess and waitress and enjoys interacting with customers. She’s attending the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts and plans to soon add a catering service and café to the first floor.
The couple first moved to Georgetown in 2000 and though Mr. Cummins’ work took the family out of the city for several years, they kept their Old Town home because
they planned to return.
“The community and the city have really been so supportive,” Ms. Cummins said. “We’ve already received a lot of positive feedback. Everyone seems really excited.”
Located next to Founders Park, the inn is two blocks from the Square and two blocks from The Union on Eighth, a new wedding and event space. Accommodations include three bedrooms wíthin two suites. Prices range from $130 a night for the smaller master suite to $220 a night for the two-bedroom suite. The cost to rent the entire upstairs, which also includes a shared living space and a small kitchenette, is $330 a night.
“It’s just cozy – much more so than a hotel,” Ms. Cummins said.
The couple plans to launch their catering service in the coming weeks and hopes to have the first-floor café open shortly after.
An open house is scheduled 10 pm. April 12 at 812 South Church Street.