Volume 104, Number 24 - June 14, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
by Jennie Oemig
After 31 years of ownership, Barbara and Andy Pfaff have decided to give someone else a chance to create their own memories at the Rivera Lodge.
Emi Domoto-Reilly took over the business May 25, and Barbara said she couldn’t be happier with the new owner. “I’m really excited she bought it,” Barbara said. “ ... She’s just the perfect buyer.” Because Domoto-Reilly plans to keep the business local, Barbara said she was the ideal candidate to take over the motel. “She will run it for tourism and plans on making it into a bed and breakfast,” Barbara said, adding that she expects her former guests will continue to come and enjoy the business.
The fact that Domoto-Reilly plans to run the business for the tourists is something Barbara said is most important to her. “I believe tourism is still vitally important to this town,” she said. “I’ve always stayed loyal to the tourists.”
Domoto-Reilly, who moved to Pinedale six years ago, but has spent many summers in the area, said the Rivera Lodge will be only the second bed and breakfast in town, joining The Chambers House. “I’m looking to fill a little niche in Pinedale,” Domoto-Reilly said. Owning a business in Pinedale is something Domoto-Reilly said she is very excited about.
“It’s a very welcoming community,” she said. “Pinedale has always been where my heart is.”
Barbara said she is also thrilled Domoto-Reilly is planning to preserve the natural beauty of the property.
“It’s nice to pass it on to someone who will keep the integrity of the Rivera Lodge what it always was,” she said.
Though they have sold the Rivera Lodge, Barbara said she will continue to work at the school during the winters and Andy will maintain his job as a petroleum engineer. “It was just the right time to let the lodge go,” she said.
The Pfaffs will be holding an open house Saturday to introduce the townspeople to the new owner.
“We want the community to come down and see what she’s done and the changes she’s made,” Barbara said. “I want them to support Emi the way they’ve supported us.” Aside from the public handing over of the keys, Domoto-Reilly said she views the open house as a way to let people know the Rivera Lodge is under new management and to help her celebrate.
“It’s a way for me to share with Pinedale my new adventure,” she said. Getting ready for the tourist season, Domoto-Reilly said she is in the process of revamping the motel.
“It’s going to be a little more intimate and quainter,” she said. “ … But I’m going to try to keep it as Pinedale as possible.”
Since selling the motel, the Pfaffs have been willing to lend Domoto-Reilly a hand with her new business venture in any way. “They’re wonderful,” Domoto-Reilly said of the former owners. “They’re over here helping me with everything. It’s a nice friendship we’ve established.”
Barbara said she has been glad to be able to assist her successor during the transition. “I’ve been blessed that she’s been here to help me,” Domoto-Reilly said.
Noting that Barbara only operated the Rivera Lodge during the summer, Domoto-Reilly said she plans to keep the bed and breakfast open year-round.
“I don’t know if the cabins are ready for that, but we’ll get them winterized,” she said. Other than the cosmetic changes and the year-round operation, Domoto-Reilly said the business will remain the same.
“I’m going to keep the name Rivera Lodge, but bed and breakfast will just be tacked onto that,” she said.
The location of the motel is also something Domoto-Reilly said is unique for the business. The kitchen area where guests will eat breakfast every morning overlooks Pine Creek.
“It’s been fun along the creek,” Domoto-Reilly said.
She then recalled times she has watched kids float down the water.
“It’s a really neat spot,” she said, gazing across to the opposite shore where a man had just cast his fishing line into the water. Having been the owner for only a few weeks, Domoto-Reilly is already looking ahead.
“It’ll be exciting,” she said. “There will be plenty of changes in the future.” While she owned the business, Barbara said she was the primary caretaker of the motel.
“I was the business,” she said. “Andy and I owned it, but I did all of the work.” Barbara said she did everything from cleaning cabins to taking reservations. “It was pretty much a one-person enterprise,” she said. “ … We didn’t hire any help.”
Barbara said the motel had been in her family for over 54 years. “My folks bought it in 1952 and I bought it from them in 1975,” she said. Though she said she promised herself she would sell the motel once she reached the age of 60, which she is, Barbara will miss certain aspects of the job.
“They feed your brain and they feed your imagination and teach you so much,” she said of interacting with her guests. Having owned the Rivera Lodge for so many years, Barbara said it will be hard not having an active role in the business anymore. “It’s a labor of love,” she said. “My heart and soul is in that place.”
Over the years, Barbara said she has many fond memories of the motel and the guests she has met.
“We’ve had our share of well-knowns, including the astronauts … and Lou Costello,” she said.
Domoto-Reilly said it’s important to her to maintain the clientele Barbara has been serving for more than 31 years and welcome many more.
“I hope to keep all the same people coming back, as well as travelers who come through,” she said. “I look forward to carrying on the tradition.”
Photo credits: Jennie Oemig
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