Chris and Sarah are the latest caretakers of this 200-year-old home, weathering the storm of a pandemic and coming out even stronger.
From Colorado to Cape Cod, Chris and Sarah’s journey to operating the Inn on Main in Yarmouth Port on 6A was a winding, yet gratifying path. Chris Kennedy and Sarah Bradburn met in Colorado in 2009 and have been together ever since. After 11 years in Colorado, with Sarah working as a middle school history teacher and Chris working at a nonprofit bringing broadband to rural counties, they found themselves wanting to move on and do more. Running a bed and breakfast felt like the right move for both Kenneburns (a mash-up of their last names), and for Chris, the only option was returning to the water.
When it came to searching for an inn, the Kenneburn’s (but mostly Chris) knew the biggest box to check was proximity to water. “We looked at the West Coast, initially, but it was very seasonal, at least the areas we looked at. It didn’t have the summer tourism aspect that I was looking for,” Chris explains. “Then we headed to the East Coast. We started in the Carolinas, because I didn’t want to be in the South. I wanted to be somewhere that was year-round; I love the seasons, especially winter. So, we started to narrow it down to Cape Cod and Connecticut. We had a list of about five Cape Cod properties and two Connecticut properties.” With almost all their boxes checked, the former Crook Jaw Inn became the Inn on Main. “Out of the five, this was the first one we looked at and it also needed the most work. It hadn’t operated in four years and had been on the market for quite a while,” says Chris. “I think most people who are looking at B&Bs want running properties that have clientele that already have reservations and income coming from day one, which wasn’t going to be the case with this place. We knew we’d have our work cut out for us.”
Working with an historic building comes with its own set of challenges that the Kenneburns were ready to face head on. Thought to be built between 1790 and 1810 by E.W Crocker, Chris and Sarah are only the fifth innkeepers of this 200-year-old home. “It was turned into a B&B in 1984 by a retired priest who then lovingly did the conversion in the bedrooms so each has their own en-suite bathroom. Its very ingenious, what he did. There were two other owners after him, before us. We’re only the fifth innkeepers here,” explains Sarah. “We don’t call ourselves the owners—we’re the current caretakers of this 200-plus-year-old house,” Chris elaborates. While updating the property, the Kenneburns worked with the historical society, and welcomed any suggestions or guidance they provided. “We just feel honored to be the caretakers here. I used to teach history and maintaining that is important to me,” says Sarah. “We don’t want to lose that new England charm. We can update, but keep the essence.”
The couple did just that by focusing their updates on functionality, like upgrading the water heater, redoing gas lines and partnering with Mass Save to improve energy usage.
The worked started the day they closed on the property in May of 2019, and the Inn was open for business in July. The property’s landscaping needed a facelift, and one bathroom was treated to a full remodel, with the others slated for later this year. The bedrooms were each upgraded, originally one king and four queens, to now feature four kings and two queens. Each room, named to evoke Cape memories like Grays Beach, Orleans, Yarmouth and Captain Crocker, has its own unique feel while still honoring the landscape and the sense of place at the Inn on Main. With the goal of attracting a new demographic, the Kenneburns added internet boosters and televisions to the rooms, an investment that ended up paying off due to the pandemic.
“We stayed open. We were one of, if not the only, B&B in the area that stayed open from day one, for first responders and healthcare workers,” says Chris. “We had a nurse stay with us for almost three months early on. She was a travel nurse working at Cape Cod Hospital, from Norton MA, and she had come down here to work, staying with her grandmother. When the pandemic hit, Grandma said, ‘So, where are you staying…’ So, we tried to crowd source to raise some money through donations to keep it at little-to-no cost for healthcare workers to stay with us. That was the right thing for us to do.” Chris and Sarah also hosted a business client from Florida, who was working in Brewster to open an elder living facility. His entire team eventually stayed at the Inn, taking up all six rooms and helping the Kenneburns, and the Inn, make it through the rough winter. “They came back multiple times and they’re pretty much family now. Their CEO told us they travel all over the country, but never stayed at a B&B. Because all the hotels were closed, they came to us,” says Chris. “It’s been fun getting to know people and learn about what they do,” Sarah elaborates. “I have a saying on our wall that says ‘May all who enter as guests leave as friends.’ It’s kind of our motto.”
For Chris and Sarah, those personal connections are what make running a B&B a dream come true. “We just love the people we meet through this inn. When we were busy last year, we did 97 straight days of prepared breakfast, whether it was for one room or all six,” says Chris. “We’re doing our best to do everything, like concierge. We wear many hats. We want everyone’s experience to be unique, whether it’s your first or 20th time on the Cape.” Part of that magic is embracing the quaint town of Yarmouth Port. The Kenneburns encourage guests to spend as much time as possible exploring all that the area has to offer. “We want to keep business here on the Cape and have our guests enjoy all there is to offer,” explains Sarah. Chris follows up, “We make sure they go into all the local restaurants. And we really lucked out with being on 6A. With Yarmouth Port, even though it’s small, there are six or seven inns in this town, it’s a very high concentration. But here, you’re kind of 20 minutes from everything on the Cape, except Provincetown. And it’s quiet at night. People who stay in front rooms ask if its noisy at night and I tell them by 9 o’clock the sidewalk shuts down.” The Inn on Main also offers something many B&Bs on the Cape do not—a pet friendly atmosphere. Crocker, Chris and Sarah’s recently adopted pup, works as the official greeter and taste tester!
For the Kenneburns, and their guests, the Inn on Main provides a welcome, peaceful retreat. “I’ll go sit out on one of the Adirondack chairs out front, with maybe a bourbon, or a vodka tonic or a coke. I sit out there and listen to the birds and I watch the sun go down and smell the breezes coming off the bay, and I’m pretty happy in my little corner of the world,” says Chris. “And we don’t take it for granted. We had this opportunity that not many people get. If you’d told me two years ago I’d be running a B&B today, I’d say you were crazy.” Crazy or not, Chris and Sarah have found their place on the Cape, and their guests wouldn’t have it any other way.
Visit the Inn online at innonmaincapecod.com to learn more or to book your reservation.
Elizabeth Shaw is the senior editor at Cape Cod Life Publications.