After reopening in 2003 and adding a bed and breakfast, the owners are closing the restaurant late this year.
Thendara Inn and The Boat House, a lakeside landmark on Route 364 that became a restaurant in 1957, will be closed to the public Dec. 22.
“It has been a positive, wonderful experience for me and my family,” said owner Tracy Pellicano, who bought Thendara in 2002 with her husband, Bill.
Closing the businesses — which include The Boat House casual restaurant, a fine-dining restaurant, and a bed and breakfast — was one of the hardest decisions they have ever made, Tracy said.
She and Bill had originally purchased the property to convert it into a vacation home, she said, but after community members and former employees persuaded them to reopen it, they “decided to fulfill the requests.”
Thendara was built as a home between 1908 and 1910 by former state Sen. John Raines. In 1957, C. James Miller converted it into a restaurant.
The Pellicanos, who live in Philadelphia and have spent summers on Canandaigua Lake for years, bought Thendara in October 2002 from the Gateway Group of Rochester. Pete Stone, a Rochester restaurateur, had owned Thendara since 1998.
Prior to reopening the business in spring 2003, the Pellicanos renovated rooms for a bed and breakfast, enhanced the Inn’s menu to create a fine-dining restaurant, and continued the long tradition of serving The Boat House’s signature blue whale cocktail.
“We are proud of the fine reputation we have built,” Tracy stated in a letter announcing the decision. “We are honored that so many couples chose Thendara as the venue to start their lives together. We have welcomed guests from all over the world and met and served thousands of families in the local community.”
Tracy said the business has continued to do well. During peak season at Thendara, they hired some 65 employees.
“I’ve had the best staff,” Tracy said, adding that letting them go is hard. “For that I am sorry.”
She said the work of keeping up the business became more than they wanted to handle, with having their permanent home and another business miles away in another state. Bill Pellicano is an owner and founder of PrimePay, a Philadelphia-based automated payroll company.
Valerie Knoblauch, president of Finger Lakes Visitors Connection, said Thendara offered two distinctive features that made it particularly desirable: boat access and meeting space. Only a few public attractions along Canandaigua Lake offer a place to arrive by boat, she said. Also, Thendara’s spacious rooms for holding weddings and other large gatherings, complete “with lawn access and great views,” will be hard to replace, she said.
Ontario County Historian Preston Pierce said he enjoyed dining at Thendara and will miss it. Even so, Thendara’s return to a private home would actually match its original intent, he said.
Raines, who had enjoyed renting a cottage on the lake before having Thendara built, never got to enjoy Thendara because he died six months before it was completed, Pierce said.
Tracy said she and her family haven’t decided what they will do with the property in terms of living there, renting it out or other ideas. But the structures will be preserved, she said.
“It is an architectural gem,” said Pierce, adding that The Boat House was originally built as a warehouse for produce that was transported by steamboat to the port hub in Canandaigua.
According to local history, Thendara got its name from the Seneca natives, who first called the spot on the eastern shore of Canandaigua Lake “thendar,” which means “the meeting place.”
Julie Sherwood can be reached at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 263, or at email@example.com.