BURRILLVILLE – The sprawling three-floor structure that holds the Western Hotel was originally built to house stagecoach traffic traveling from Providence to points north.
It’s been a laid-back restaurant serving comfort food, sandwiches and pizza to locals for years, and now, the historic property is primed to move into its next phase under new ownership.
George’s Pizza owner Mark Murphy recently purchased the business from longtime owners Albert & Roxanne Mottola.
The structure was built in the late 1700s in conjunction with the Douglas Turnpike. At the time, the road was the shortest route between Providence and Worcester, and hungry travelers would stop at the way station, with horses drinking from a trough in front while they grabbed a bite and some rest.
In the mid-1800s, the business was owned by Patrick Lynch, a bottler and retail dealer of liquors. Historic accounts note that Bernard Lynch served as manager, and the hotel advertised room and board by the day or the night, and also had a stable and a sample room. Lynch also owned and operated the Nasonville Bottling Company, bottling such beverages as sarsaparilla, ginger ale, lager beer and mineral water.
Around 1910, the hotel was sold to Nasonville residents Richard McManus and John Meade of the firm McManus & Meade. The pair continued bottling the beverages, also running Herring Pond Hotel and a barroom at what is now Spring Lake.
Over the years the property has housed a saloon and dance hall, and on the third floor, a stage from its lively history remains in place.
The space above the ground floor restaurant held rental apartments for years, and restauranteur Albert Mottola purchased it in 1985.
Under Mottola, it became Western Hotel Pizza and Tavern, retaining much of its old charm in the ground-floor restaurant with a wooded interior and saloon-style doors.
Mottola was interviewed for the public radio program One Square Mile in 2015.
“Unfortunately, it had been, you know, pretty well beaten up,” he said of the property. “When I got it, it was basically a saloon and not one where you would come out to dinner or bring your wife.”
At the time, the upper floors were reported to be filled with relics, from a wagon wheel to the original stage.
Mottola also said that Jimmy Buffet once ate a cheeseburger there.
According to town records, Mark Murphy Real Estate purchased the property at 610 Douglas Turnpike for $375,000.
Murphy owns George’s Pizza and Pub in Pascoag, and worked with town officials aiming to revitalize that village around a decade ago, building a mixed use commercial and residential space where The New York Department store once stood. He also built a portion of the Riverwalk connecting Sayles Avenue and High Street in Pascoag.
As town redevelopers turn their focus to Nasonville, the historic property could play a role. Officials are working on redesigning the intersection in front of the restaurant as part of a recently launched plan for that village.
At a public hearing on the sale held on Wednesday, Nov. 18, Town Council President John Pacheco wished Murphy luck with the business.
“That is my go to place for hamburgers because I like a rare burger and they make it by hand,” Pacheco said. “Nobody does that, so I hope you keep doing that.”
After a one day closure on Tuesday, Nov. 19, Western Hotel reopened under the new management. They are now open seven days a week for lunch, dinner, takeout, and delivery from 10:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.