The Norwich Inn, across the Connecticut River from Dartmouth College, has seen its share of ebbs and flows in the past two centuries, but nothing could prepare the management team for the implosion caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Normally a favorite with students, alumni, and visiting parents and professors, the inn was all but forced to close down when Dartmouth conducted classes mainly online last school year. Now Dartmouth, like other schools, has brought students back in person this September, offering the inn a chance to rebound. Innkeeper Dave Burtonbush sat down in July to talk about how the business survived the crisis and his outlook. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.
At least 80-85% of our business is driven by what’s happening at Dartmouth. All of their large events—kids getting dropped off at school, visiting professors, conferences—that really turns into room sales for us, as well as restaurant business. When they shut down their operation, it had a major impact on us. When they get back into 100% normal operation, we’re guaranteed that all of that business will come back.