PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A spot “where everybody knows your name” is a good place to be, and the new owner of the Presque Isle Inn and Convention Center wants to create just that kind of feeling.
Cang Quach, originally from San Francisco and the owner of a motel and recreational vehicle park in Colorado, took over the inn on Nov. 22.
Quach was in the market for his next business venture, so he visited Texas and the eastern U.S. to find the right environment. After looking at Florida, Tennessee, Ohio and Virginia, he made his last stop in Presque Isle, and found the inn that inspired him — a place that he wants to recreate as a favorite local haven.
“When I came here in February, I thought that this is an awesome place with a lot of charm, while having some deferred maintenance, but we are going to address all of that,” Quach said. “It was also nice and cold, and I fell in love with [the area].”
Quach’s background is in finance, where he has worked in investment management, banking and startups. He started his own investment banking practice called Stern Ventures, which is focused on pre-IPO secondary transactions. While the business is successful, Quach described it as “lumpy” when it comes to steady finances, so he needed a way to smooth out the cash flow.
He first got into the hospitality business in December 2019, purchasing the Tower 64 Motel and RV Park in Trinidad, Colorado. However, COVID-19 struck, and being limited to a 25-person occupancy for the motel left the business hurting for several months.
However, when Colorado reopened amid eased restrictions, Quach was greeted with a flood of guests who came mainly from Texas. The model worked very well given that RVs allowed for social distancing, and the various entrances to rooms meant that guests did not have much interaction with each other.
The success that Tower 64 brought in 2020 allowed him to search for his next development. That journey brought him to Aroostook County.
Quach has already begun renovations. Crews are repaving the parking lot and beefing up the building’s exterior, including weatherproofing and fixing siding, and plan to replace the roof as well. Quach said he has been sourcing both materials and labor locally as much as possible. Inside, the hotel rooms will soon have new furniture.
Quach will keep the Time Out Sports Bar open, and wants to bring back the Olde Gaol Tavern in early 2022. He plans to reopen Gram Russo’s Italian Restaurant at a later date as well. Live entertainment has made a comeback in a limited capacity so far, which Quach hopes to grow after the new year.
“I think people miss that,” Quach said. “COVID has had us in lockdown for two years, and people want a place where we return to some sort of normalcy, and we can hang out and be friends and be merry again.”
The inn opened as the Swamp Fox Motor Inn in the 1970s, and became Keddy’s in the 1980s. In 2000, owner Kevin Simmons opened it as the Presque Isle Inn & Convention Center, and also owned the Caribou Inn & Convention Center. Simmons lost his battle with cancer in January.
Moving forward, Quach is looking forward to connecting the Presque Isle community, and recapturing the fond memories of the past.
“I want to be able to bring back the charm. There are a lot of memories that this place has and people speak fondly of it, still referring to it as Keddy’s or Swamp Fox or The Connection or Olde Gaol or Frankie’s, and I want to be able to create new memories while bringing back our old customer base as well,” Quach said.
“I also want to create an environment like ‘Cheers,’ where everybody knows your name.”