The picturesque waterfront at the Owenego Inn and Beach Club has served as backdrops to hundreds of wedding and prom photos as well as events of all shapes and sizes for years. But the sights of this local landmark were far from that vision this past August during the wrath of Tropical Storm Irene.
The Owenego Inn, originally built in the 1800’s, has seen its fair share of storms. It has withstood so many gales that Owenego General Manager John Bloomquist and his family of four actually left their home on the property of the beach club and sought shelter next door in the club. The Bloomquists weren’t the only ones to escape to the Owenego however. The Indian Neck Fire Department called soon after the storm began to ask if it would be okay for them to store their equipment on the property and to stage incase they were dispatched, which they were several times to Pawson Park.
Familiar Owenego faces Jane Peck and Jacqueline Harrington had been at the club before the family even arrived keeping out water. Once everyone was inside the main dining room, there was no other choice but to sit and watch the storm out. “It certainly leaves you in a helpless position,” remembers John, “however we weren’t alone in the position. Everyone along the coast was receiving the same damage- if not worse,”
He recalls watching the damage begin with the entire roof of the main waterfront bathhouses being peeled back, “I thought oh boy. Once you see that you equate damage to additional headaches down the road.”
Once the storm finally began to calm, John and the rest of the Owenego crew who were on site went out and began to survey the damage. Once again, the actual clubhouse had withstood but the immediate waterfront property was not as fortunate. The bathhouses had been completely devastated, waterfront rails flown all over the grounds, concrete benches ripped out of the ground, water up the Hungry Dog Café (the Owenego’s outdoor restaurant), and most of the lawn covered by large debris.
The Owenego staff now faced the nearly insurmountable challenge of cleaning up the grounds in its entirety to prepare for a wedding happening in less than a week.
“We were fortunate. It was all hands on deck from Owenego staff as well as the community itself. There were people that just drove here to say ‘Hey, do you need help?’ The community of Branford really pitched in.”
If you walk the Owenego property today you will see a completely different scene- actually, even better than before the storm. The Owenego staff, family, and friends were able to clean up the grounds to execute all scheduled events for the rest of the season, including the 14th Annual Hammerfest Triathlon which the Owenego has hosted for all years. But that wasn’t the end of the facelift. Today the beach club boasts a beautifully modernized interior, completely paved driveways (an issue on the docket for a few years now), and the brand new waterfront beach houses will be completed before Memorial Day. “We want to create a great presentation from the roadway into the building itself and look 100%,” John comments.
There are lots of ways to enjoy the Owenego Inn and Beach Club this summer:
- Become a member
- Still accepting memberships for the 2012 Beach and Tennis Season
- Private events
- Some select dates are still available for private events at the Owenego. Call the office (203-488-3805) for more information and availability.
- Hungry Dog Café
(See the full menu here!)
- The Owenego is home to the outdoor restaurant, Hungry Dog Café that is open to the public. The café is open mid June to Labor Day, 5:30pm-9:00pm, Monday thru Thursday
- Cocktail Lounge
- The Owenego’s main bar is also open to the public and is currently open weekends starting at 5:00pm. Once the weather breaks, the bar will be open seven days a week.
“In the grand scheme we feel very fortunate,” says John looking back. “All of us here at ‘The O’ are very excited for the upcoming season since last summer ended so abruptly.”
To keep up to date with the Owenego visit them online at www.owenego.com or call the office at 203-488-3805 to be added to their email list.