Story by Stephanie Farrell, as seen in the Amador Ledger Dispatch December 7, 2012
The St. George Hotel in Volcano has a new owner
Located in the heart of Volcano, the St. George Hotel was bought by Sharon Lundgren. The hotel has a rich history and is listed on the national registry of historical buildings.
Lundgren grew up in Volcano, after moving to the small town from Southern California when she was eleven years old. Her father purchased the Volcano Telephone Company, that was located in Volcano at that time. The move was a welcome one for Lundgren, “I loved it. We roamed around in the creek. We rode our bikes half way to Sutter Creek and all around. We picked blackberries.” She was happy to live in Volcano as a child and made lots of friends, several of which she is still friends with today.
Because Volcano holds many fond memories for Lundgren and the fact that she already owned property in the town, she was watching the hotel that was up for sale for several years. At the time of purchase, she was the only one who showed up at the foreclosure auction at the courthouse steps. “Tom Blackman came with me that day as my advisor and real estate respresentative. When they handed me a single sheet of paper, instead of the usual mountain of paper that usually goes with the sale of real estate, I was surprised at how streamlined the process was.” The hotel had been closed for only a few weeks. Lundgren planned to re-open it immediately, but found that there was a lot of cleanup and repairs that would need to be done before they could open. And to add to this stress, just a few weeks after buying the hotel, Lundgren discovered that she had breast cancer. This was a major set back. Anyone who knows Lungren will attest to her tenacity and perserverance, and will not be surprised to find that she is going full force with her plans for the hotel. “It’s a beautiful property.” Says Lundgren.”You can just feel the history. It just comes to life here. When I was a newlywed, I lived nearby. I can remember listening to the jukebox being played at the hotel. It’s a happy memory. It never crossed my mind that I would ever own the hotel.”
In order to get the hotel, restaurant and saloon going again, Lundgren consulted with the previous manager and owner. It was from that conversation that she contacted former employees Megan Watt’s and Jeff Norris and asked them to come back to work at the hotel. Watts was the manager of the Whiskey Flat Saloon and she was happy to return. “I knew that she wanted to bring out the full potential of the place, because she really cares about it. It’s not a hobby for her.” Watt’s says of Lundgren. As they were getting ready to open, Watts says, We had a lot of regulars that were calling to see when we would open. They are our friends.”
Joining Watts is Jeff Norris as manager of the restaurant. Norris has experience in fine dining dating back to the Imperial Hotel in Amador City when it was owned by Bruce Sherrill and Dale Morris. “Bruce taught me to pay attention to the details. He showed me the art of fine dining and how to serve people.” Norris went on to work at the Beverly Hill Hotel before returning to his roots in Amador County. The chef for the restaurant is Ray Mansu, also a lifelong resident of Amador County. Mansu went to Columbia College to learn the art of cooking and just two years after graduating, they asked him to teach classes. As for the food, “I love dinner dishes, it takes extra care. I can make anything, pretty much. It’s not about what I want to make, it’s about what the guests want.”says Mansu.
The hotel is being managed by Sharon Jones, a personal friend of Lundgren’s for many years. “I’m doing whatever needs to be done, answer phones, wash dishes, restoring furniture, anything. I will do whatever I need to do for as long as I need to do it.” Says Jones. And, at the heart of the entire operation, Lundgren can be found, making drapes, remodeling the kitchen and more. Helping her with the decorating is her daughter, Angela Lundgren. “I didn’t know she was going to buy the hotel until she was on her way to the auction.” Angela says. She continues, “I think that the St. George means a lot to the local people. It’s very important that it’s owned locally and not by a big corporation.”
The hotel has twenty rooms, each room is one of a kind with a theme that relates to the mining industry. The hotel is furnished throughout with antique furniture. There have been many upgrades including, flat screen tvs, new mattresses, new linens and more. The Garden Cottage is a separate building with a cozy fireplace, open floor plan, kitchenette, a secluded patio and a jacuzzi. The Zinfindel Suite is a small house with a fireplace, dining room, living room, bathroom, bedroom and has vaulted ceilings. The gardens are available for weddings, parties and outside eating. Lundgren says, “the gardens are so magical, it’s one of the main reasons I wanted to buy the property.”
The Whiskey Flat Saloon, is a cozy, historical bar that has an old time feel to it. The wood floors creak, it has the original bar from the parlour and there are old photographs plastered all over. There is a wall mural that may have been in the original bar.
Lundgren plans to continue to upgrade and redecorate and says, “The St. George Hotel is the heart of Volcano. I want the community to enjoy it and I want out of town guests to feel at home.”
The St. George Hotel is located at 16104 Main Street inVolcano. The phone number for reservations and more information is 296-4458. The restaurant is open serving food in the dining room and the Saloon Thursday and Friday from 5 pm to 9 pm, Saturday from 3 pm to 9 pm and Sunday from 3 pm to 8 pm with the Saloon staying open later for drinks.
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