Pulse: Chatter: Revamps: Back in Black

Brunchers, rejoice: An old favorite returns

Some good news in the current horrible economy:

With its iconic, rambling white-stucco facade and perch on the banks of the Delaware, the Black Bass Inn, built in 1745, was the go-to place for brunch, and a beloved getaway in Bucks County, a spot where you could linger for hours on the porch and watch the river roll by. But in 2007, after two major floods closed River Road for months of repairs, the Black Bass shut down; it was sold at auction last year to Bucks County car dealer Jack Thompson.

Amazingly, Thompson is not only reopening the inn next month  —  he’s making it better than it ever aspired to be. “The inn will look the same, but it will have heat and air conditioning and be clean, none of which it had before,” says manager Grant Ross, who owns a similar small hotel in his native Scotland. “Since in the 21st century nobody wants to share a bathroom, we made the rather expensive decision to create eight suites, all with their own bathrooms, which will be pretty fabulous.” Ross says that he and Thompson  —  moved more by nostalgia for the old favorite than a drive for profit  —  have completely re-engineered the building (which they were told by a structural architect posed “imminent risk of massive loss of life” when they got hold of it) and have saved all of its antiques. They’ve also bought the recently shuttered Lumberville General Store across the street to open as a cafe and bakery, as well as the Mountainside Inn three miles upriver in Point Pleasant, to someday become an extension of the Black Bass. The chef, John Barrett, was with the inn for 12 years before it closed: “He turned out great food with a terrible kitchen before,” says Ross, “so we’re hoping he can do even better now with a fantastic new kitchen.” Finally, a bailout we can all get behind.