LAKESIDE, Ohio — Lakeside Chautauqua, the Victorian-era summer resort community on Lake Erie, is making a pitch for winter visitors.
The Fountain Inn, one of two hotels on the Lakeside grounds, will be open year-round this year.
Also new this off-season: The Slack House, a new Lakeside restaurant, which is open year-round, offering specialty burgers, fries and milkshakes.
Lakeside, about 90 minutes west of Cleveland, is a hub of summertime activity, with cultural, educational, religious and recreational programming offered during a three-month summer season. But the Ottawa County community quiets down considerably in the off-season.
Daniel Rogers, Lakeside’s new president and CEO, said the coronavirus pandemic is altering visitation habits. Lakeside homeowners are staying longer into the off-season, he said. And long-time visitors are expressing a desire to come back throughout the year.
“We really believe this is the right moment for us to experiment,” he said. “My goal and objective is to have Lakeside function year-round. It may take us a few years to get there.”
The 47-room Fountain Inn, built in 1977, is the newer of Lakeside’s two hotels. The other, the lakefront Hotel Lakeside, built in 1875, remains closed for the season.
The Fountain Inn, located in Lakeside’s small downtown, is attached to the new Slack House Historical Cafe, which occupies the site of a former doctor’s office and guesthouse. Historic photographs of Lakeside, founded in 1873 by the Methodist Church, adorn the walls.
On the menu: burgers, perch, salads, soups, shakes and more. Open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. daily, it’s one of a handful of retailers open year-round in Lakeside. A portion of the restaurant’s proceeds will support environmental causes.
Rogers said he’s hoping to bring more people to town with a series of special events, including a Christmas festival on December 5 and possibly an ice-sculpting event in January.
Unlike during the summer, there is no fee to get into Lakeside in the off-season. For information: lakesideohio.com.