New owners have moved in at Orient Inn and launched a soft opening of the historic lodgings.
Tracy and Alex Sutton, who now live in the home, received approval from the town to operate the five-bedroom inn in September. The couple has renovated the building, which has seven bedrooms in total, and rebranded as The Inn at Orient.
“I’m just mostly excited to get it off the ground and start having people come and see the place. I have a lot of followers on Instagram, and everyone is very complimentary about everything and excited to see all the changes,” Ms. Sutton said. She’s been documenting the progress of renovations on the account @theinnatorient.
The former Southold residents purchased the 116-year-old house in early April last year, primarily because they were looking for an Orient home — not because they were looking to open an inn. The Orient Inn closed operations shortly after the purchase.
“We were looking for a home to move to in Orient and that’s what was available back when we were looking. We love old homes and it just was a perfect fit,” Ms. Sutton said. The Suttons have previously owned and renovated an 1884 home in Southold.
She’s never run an inn, but Ms. Sutton has experience owning and running multiple other businesses, including companies The Maine Ingredient, Cookies & Quilts and interior design studio Tracy Sutton Design. She also has a background in hospitality — she attended the University of Denver in Colorado for hotel restaurant management and graduated from The Culinary Institute of America in New York.
Ms. Sutton has a bachelor in fine arts degree from New York School of Interior Design as well, where her thesis centered on an old oyster factory on Shipyard Lane in East Marion. She designed and transformed the space, called Oyster House Art Collaborative, into multiple art studios for local artists with exhibition space and a restaurant on the water.
“Interestingly enough, the inn used to be called Oysterponds Inn many years ago. The oyster cards and artwork will be available for sale at the inn. So everything ties together with everything I have done in my life. It has come full circle,” Ms. Sutton said.
The Inn at Orient can accommodate as many as 10 guests at a time. Each of the five available bedrooms has access to a private bathroom and individual air conditioning and heat units. Guests will have access to common spaces such as the wraparound porch, the dining room, a fire pit and a brick patio with tables in the yard.
Ms. Sutton hasn’t finalized plans for meals yet; the kitchen is a private space, so it won’t be open to guests.
“I’m still not sure what we’re doing as far as that. We might be providing a gift card possibly to a local restaurant … but we haven’t made a decision yet,” she said.
The house has been decorated with art, including work from local artists — local water color artist Melissa Hyatt painted ferns on part of the floor, and photography and paintings adorn the walls. One framed photo depicts some of Ms. Sutton’s family members posing for a Norman Rockwell painting.
“We hope that anyone who comes here appreciates the hold history and the charm and it’s not perfect, but it’s well over  years old and that they respect it and enjoy it, are intrigued with it as much as we are and that they love it and care for it and enjoy it,” Ms. Sutton said.
The Inn at Orient was constructed in 1906 by Edward Edwards on land belonging to him and his two brothers, according to local history book “Hotels and Inns of Long Island’s North Fork.” Before the Suttons, the house was owned by Joan Turtorro and Howard LeShaw, who ran it as a bed and breakfast for 20 years.
“Orient Inn thanks all of our wonderful guests, neighbors and friends for giving us the opportunity to serve you all with leisure, rest, good times and good food for the last 20 years. All of you — including our vendors and staff — have made Orient Inn a success and we are so very grateful,” the couple wrote on the inn’s website. They closed the bed and breakfast on April 9, 2021.
“The new buyers intend to carry on the tradition of hospitality in the near future. Meanwhile we will be cooking, making music, and living in Orient Village. When you are once again on the East End we would love to hear from you. Thank you for all the wonderful times and memories,” the pair conclude.
Guests may call the inn to book a room. The Suttons also have plans to launch an online reservation system.
“It’s been wonderful to share [the house] with everybody and have them appreciate the history and what we’re trying to do and bring it back to life, so it’s exciting,” Ms. Sutton said. “We love Orient. It’s such a beautiful town and we’ve always wanted to move here … We’re excited about our new adventure.”