YORK COUNTY COAST STAR - Grey Gull Inn in Wells to sell at auction

November 13, 2008

Grey Gull Inn in Wells to sell at auction
Lewis' to auction off the Grey Gull
Gordon and Donna Lewis at the Grey Gull Inn in Moody.
After 23 years, they've decided to auction the property.
WELLS - For the last 23 years, Ogunquit residents Donna and Gordon Lewis have operated the landmark Moody inn and restaurant known as The Grey Gull, offering great dining and cozy accommodations to residents and visitors alike.

That record of service is coming to an end on Dec. 13, however, when they plan to close the doors. They plan to sell the classic building at auction.

"We've been very fortunate and privileged to be custodians for 23 years," Donna said. "I hope someone will come in and feel the same way."

Donna said she and Gordon had been quietly trying to sell the place and nearly did so in October, but the deal fell through when the stock market took a nose dive. That's when the idea of an auction came up.

"After the sale fell though, we had some soul searching to do," Donna said. "Then we were contacted by J.J. Manning, a neighbor who comes here to eat. He said he'd heard it might be for sale. He said he represented an auction company (and wondered if we wanted to sell that way)."

At first, the Lewises were skeptical of going that route, but later they were convinced to do so.

"J.J. brought us brochures showing some of the properties the company represented," Gordon said. "They were very high-end."

Donna said the decision to auction the property reflects a desire for the sale to have minimal impact on others.

"We realized we had a lot of relationships with hotels," she said. "They're booking things now. We also do a lot of weddings. We were concerned they'd be impacted. (The auction) is finite. It happens and 45 days later it's done. The downside is we'll take a little less money for it. I feel the fact that it will be over and we won't be impacting other people outweighs that."

The Lewises also own Clay Hill Farm in York, which they will continue to operate. In fact, they have a major project underway there now that's taking a lot of their time.

"We're giving away a $40,000 wedding," Donna said. "That's another reason we decided to do something definite here. The wedding is a contest. It will be on June 19. We'll choose the top five contestants and then put them on the Internet so the public can choose the winner."

The Lewis's said they have seen a lot over the 23 years that they've run the place, and their memories of their time at the Grey Gull will stay with them.

"We have celebrated people's birthdays, anniversaries, wedding rehearsals, baby showers, and funerals," Donna said. "We've been part of all the celebrated events of the community."

Gordon also emphasized the importance of being part of the community.

"Being here has let us get involved with the Town of Wells," he said. "The lifelong friendships we've made here are the real gifts from working at the Grey Gull."

But it's not just the customers that have accumulated over the years. There's also the matter of the employees. It was the couple's practice to keep their workers employed year round.

"That's been a way to keep our core staff," Donna said. "It was very, very important to us to keep our commitment to them. We've had staff that've stayed for all 23 years, people of all ages. We have some that are in their 80s."

Despite all that, Donna acknowledged that it was time to go.

"We're also getting older," she said. "I would love to have a day off."

After Dec. 13, she probably will.
By Jim Kanak
November 13, 2008 6:00 AM