Most weekend afternoons this summer, the sidewalks along Main Street in New Hope have been filled with people. Which is notable because weeks of lockdowns and months of pandemic-related restrictions threatened to dismantle the closely-knit community of quirky shops that have long formed the riverside borough’s identity.
But with the opening of the reimagined Logan Inn last summer, it became clear that New Hope is in the throes of a renaissance.
Aesthetically, it began in the fall of 2017 with the opening of the Ferry Market, a stylish hub that features several trendy food stalls, along with a coffee bar, a craft brewer, and a local vineyard. But, really, the movement took root even earlier than that, when the Bridge Street Foundation bought the Bucks County Playhouse.
That happened in late 2011. For much the year prior to that, the iconic theater sat empty. The foundation quickly breathed new life into it. And a few years later, Sherri and Kevin Daugherty, the couple behind the nonprofit, grew their footprint in New Hope with the opening of the Ferry Market, which they own separately from the foundation.
The rebirth of the playhouse sparked a larger revival of New Hope’s waterfront. In August 2019, the Ghost Light Inn opened next door. The contemporary boutique hotel, which is also owned by the Daughertys, was eight years in the making.
“At one point there was almost a dozen organizations that had to approve our plans,” Sherri told NJ.com in 2019. “We would design a plan, and we would say, ‘What do you think?’ And they would say, ‘Eh, it’s all great, except for this.’ So then we would go and change that, and give it to the next person, and they’d say, ‘No, I don’t like that, do this.’”
The final design capitalizes on the picturesque views of the Delaware. That includes Stella, the farm-to-table restaurant that was operated by James Beard Award-winning chef Jose Garces until last year, when he severed his ties.
Meanwhile, there was finally some movement – literally – around Odette’s, the legendary restaurant and cabaret lounge. After sitting dormant since 2006, the stone building was moved just up the road in October 2018 to make way for another boutique hotel, restaurant, and lounge.
The River House at Odette’s opened two years ago. It’s described as “where edgy, yet elegant, urban-inspired design elements are seamlessly married with flowing fabrics, bold fixtures, and reclaimed architectural features for an unparalleled riverfront experience.”
Odette Myrtil, the flamboyant character after whom the original restaurant was named, influenced many aspects of the River House, from the velvet and leather sofas in the piano lounge to the custom wall coverings embedded with musical scores from and love letters about the cabaret she presided over.
“Every detail from the historic artifacts celebrated around the property to the measures taken to offer both plush comforts and an otherworldly environment has been meticulously composed to transport both guests and locals as soon as they walk through the door,” said Ron Gorodesky, president of Refined Hospitality, the management company overseeing River House, in a statement released prior to the hotel’s opening.
And now there’s also the Logan Inn, which in spite of its central position on New Hope’s Main Street, was long seen as an outdated, overpriced relic that catered to day-trippers, most of whom learned about the inn through ghost hunter documentaries.
But that seems to be a thing of the past. The hotel has been transformed through an extensive renovation that has doubled the inn’s size – 22 guest rooms were added to the 16 existing ones – and rebranded it as the envy of every travel blogger.
Think in-room bars stocked with artisanal spirits and house-made mixers. Think seasonal proprietary scents. Think a restaurant featuring a chef with an elite pedigree and a reputation for being super-meticulous about sourcing his ingredients.
Yeah, this isn’t the stuffy Logan Inn you endured for mom’s sake on Mother’s Day. Nor is this, any longer, the New Hope you knew when you graduated from cruising malls as a teenager.