Montpelier Inn

Henderson to give new look,
name to former Country Club

Montpelier Inn to open
in mid-June with upscale fare

By Don Ward

MADISON, Ind. (May 2003) – The transformation of turning the formerly private Madison Country Club into a public attraction took another step in April with the decision by its owners to lease the clubhouse to local businessman Robin Henderson. Henderson plans to renovate the clubhouse and open it to the public sometime in June as Montpelier Inn, an upscale restaurant with banquet and reception rooms for private parties and special events. Henderson said he also hopes to cater to the golf crowd coming off the nine-hole course, which is now also open to the public and operating as River Chase Golf Course.

Robin Henderson

Photo by Don Ward

Robin Henderson at the
former Madison Country Club

“I’m excited; I’ve waited for an opportunity like this to come up here in Madison, and this is the best opportunity I could have imagined,” said Henderson, who moved to town a year ago from Virginia when he and his wife, Margot, bought the Baskin-Robbins franchise on Main Street.
Henderson, a retired U.S. government communications engineer, had been a part-owner in a restaurant in Virginia at one time. He has degrees in engineering and business and is experienced in sales and marketing. He plans to handle all the business aspects of the Montpelier Inn, a name Henderson took from President James Madison’s home in Orange, Va. Madison was the nation’s fourth president and known as the “Father of the Constitution.” Henderson is trying to obtain portraits of James and Dolly Madison to hang in the restaurant. He also plans to feature local artists’ work on the walls and historical photos about Madison and the country club itself.
Henderson envisions a “high-end” restaurant that will be upscale but priced to match the local market. He plans to be open daily, serving lunch, dinner and a special Sunday buffet. He has hired Adi Kienle as the chef. Kienle once worked as chef at the former Country Club and later at the Elk’s Club in Madison. Henderson also has hired a bar manager and expects to hire wait staff and bartenders soon, plus a hostess.
The restaurant’s banquet room seats 120 and overlooks the golf course. Another dining room seats up to 40. A third “smoking room” seats about 30. Henderson plans to feature a piano bar in addition to the existing bar. He is also considering hiring a roaming violinist to play on weekends. Upstairs are three smaller rooms that he plans to renovate and use for private functions and meeting rooms.
In good weather, he can also seat people on the screened patio overlooking the ninth green, or on the outdoor porch. Henderson hopes to earn back the business of the 120 former members of the club as well as attract local residents and tourists.
A group of 30 former members formed an Limited Liability Corp. and bought the property in February. They have leased the golf course to Mike Guthrie, who owns Westwood Golf Course in Scottsburg. Guthrie is planning to offer joint memberships good at both courses, in addition to greens fee play to the public, according to Tony Waltz, one of five principle LLC owners. Former club pro Ken Allender’s company has been hired to maintain the course grounds and Allender will continue to offer golf lessons.
Negotiations are under way to allow a private swim club to operate the swimming pool, Waltz said. Jeff Garrett and Ann Grummer are organizing a membership-only organization to use the pool this summer, once insurance issues have been resolved.
“We’re really pleased with our deal with Robin,” Waltz said. “We feel he will do a good job and provide a high-quality restaurant. He appears to be a good businessman, and Adi was popular as a chef there before.”

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