Elegant and rustic: Dryden's Riverview Lodge has charmed travellers for over three decades.
The lodge has been the place to be to host anniversaries, weddings, banquets, retirement parties, press conferences and travelling dignitaries.
Located on the banks for the Wabigoon River, the almost 100-year-old hotel has been the focus of two entrepreneurial couples, Barry and Suzanne Scherban, and Jordon Railian and Susan Durance.
The rustic vertical timbers, oak floors and brick fire places in the main dining room were once the residence of Dryden Paper Mill manager's E. Bonsfield residence in 1910.
When the partners took over in 1977, the place had seen better days. It was a rundown boarding house with shared washrooms. Over the years, the two couples have invested close to a million dollars to bring it up to current building standards. They built a patio lounge and renovated the guest rooms. Barry handles the kitchen and its prime rib specialty, Jordon does the up-front promotional and administrative duties while Suzanne and Susan do everything else from waiting tables, tending bar, hiring staff and working banquets and meetings.
"It's quite amazing the people that come here to celebrate their anniversaries from 50 years ago," says Railian, "and how many were married here and have wedding pictures."
Over the years, they've hosted Stephen Harper, Paul Martin, Stephane Dion, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and Lt. Governor-General Lincoln Alexander.
A new spinoff of the business is the house oil and vinegar dressing. Hagen's Salad Dressing was originally sold years ago in Red Eagle gift stores across northwestern Ontario. They've revived the product and are distributing it across Canada and into the United States. But after three decades, the owners say it's time to sell the lodge.
"It's due for some new blood," says Railian. "It's a lifestyle and it's open 24-hours a day, seven-days a week."
RELATED ARTICLE: QUICK QUESTIONS
... to Jordon Railian
What's been the biggest surprise?
The number of customers who tell us how successful we would be if we could take our lovely log cabin, fine food, great service, and relocated in a larger centre like Toronto, Winnipeg, Montreal, etc. Quite a compliment.
What have you learned the most?
Be as organized as possible. Try to be prepared for the unexpected. Make an attempt to identify problems before they occur and be willing to make changes to the original plan. One would think that after 30 years in the business, we would have seen it all ... not so. The reality of working with the public is that every day is different. Enjoy it.
What's the best advice you were given?
Listen to your customers and react when possible. Your customers love to be heard and can provide you with a wealth of knowledge that might otherwise go unnoticed. If you find yourself stuck in the office, you probably aren't hearing your customers. Get out there and get involved, customers will appreciate it.
What's the best advice you have to give?
Do not take on jobs simply for the sake of money. If a business opportunity arises that might appear to be very profitable but, you don't feel you can handle to the best of your ability, don't be afraid to turn it down. Taking on extra jobs that might compromise the performance of your everyday operation, will likely be a mistake in the long run.
By IAN ROSS
Northern Ontario Business
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|Title Annotation:||Seeds OF Success|
|Publication:||Northern Ontario Business|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2008|
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