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Pendyck sells stake in Bulls Head
David Stoudt purchases iconic 253-year-old General Sutter Inn and Bulls Head Public House
Paul Pendyck and David Stoudt met before noon in downtown Lititz Monday to complete a business transaction that might surprise more than a few people.
Coming out of their one-hour settlement meeting at 11 a.m., Stoudt was the new owner of the General Sutter Inn and Bulls Head Public House.
While the historic 253-year-old hotel has changed hands for the third time in successive decades, it’s become somewhat of a Main Street linchpin that reached another level of distinction shortly after the Bulls Head opened as an authentic British pub in 2010.
Pendyck, a native of Liverpool in Britain, and his partner Dave Pegg, opened the Bulls Head adjacent to the Sutter four years following the purchase of the restaurant and inn from Ed and Dolores Brophy in 2006.
Asked what compelled him to sell a decade later, Pendyck said “I asked myself that numerous times.”
“It was not an easy decision because I love the business and it’s a very viable business,” he said. “It’s kind of a bird in the hand, sort of. I’m not ready to retire or anything like that.”
Plans now call for him to remain with the business for 18 months. “At least, that’s the initial contract,” he said.
He said the decision was made easier knowing Stoudt is a friend and “great customer” who had celebrated at the Bulls Head following his 2014 wedding to Dr. Susan Hovenden at the nearby chapel on Linden Hall’s campus.
“I think that we found somebody who, one, was obviously willing to give us what we wanted,” he said. “But the very, very, very, important factor is that he is a local person who understands the community. He doesn’t want to come in here and make wholesale changes. He loves the business as it is and really just wants to continue it.”
Stoudt, a Warwick Township resident, is second-generation president and chief executive of Stoudt Advisors, a Lancaster-based benefits consulting and brokerage firm.
The Bulls Head earlier this month was named best beer bar in Pennsylvania for the second year running, according to the latest Great American Beer Bars competition held by CraftBeer.com, part of the Brewers Association in Colorado.
“We’ve got a winning formula in the Bulls Head, so why mess with success?” Stoudt said.
The Lititz Record Express asked Pendyck how much influence the business may have had in helping Lititz be named “America’s Coolest Small Town” by Budget Travel in 2013.
“I don’t want to be immodest, but I think we’re part of what helped make that happen,” he said. “When that happened I think everybody saw the benefit of that because there was just additional exposure and I think it brought more tourists to town.”
Located at 14 E. Main St., the General Sutter Inn offers fine dining as well as a ballroom for weddings and special events.
The Inn consists of 16 rooms for lodging, including the Rock Lititz suites, decorated with memorabilia from local companies who serve the rock concert touring industry.
The General Sutter Inn dates to 1764, when a log inn named Zum Anker (“sign of the anchor”) was built on the site. The current brick structure dates to the early 1800s.
The property next became the Lititz Springs Hotel. Then, in 1930, it became the General Sutter Inn in honor of California Gold Rush legend John Augustus Sutter, who spent his final years in Lititz.
Pendyck said another “crucial” factor in selling to Stoudt was “we have a shared vision” of what the business was and has become.
“So it was a far more attractive prospect than putting it on the market, getting a broker involved and getting people coming down from outside the area that didn’t really understand Lititz,” Pendyck said.
All employees will be offered the same positions, including the manager and chef, as held under the previous ownership. While Stoudt now owns the business, the management of it will not change.
“He doesn’t have the desire to run the business,” Pendyck said. “He’s got enough irons in the fire.”
Stoudt graduated from Susquehanna University with a degree in business administration and is a member of the Self Insurance Institute of America, the Society of Professional Benefit Administrators, the Human Resource Management Association and the Lancaster County Business Group on Health.
Dedicated to civic and community activities, Stoudt is a board member of the Housing Development Corporation, Linden Hall School for Girls, and Luthercare.
“The Sutter has been a part of my life for decades, and I want to ensure that it continues to be an important part of Lititz,” Stoudt said.
The Bulls Head will remain a traditional pub-focused business where all sales are made directly at the bar. This requires that a wide cross-section of people physically cross paths and socialize because customers cannot plant themselves in seat in the back of the restaurant.
“The fact that you have to order at the bar actually creates a more convivial atmosphere,” Pendyck said. “If we’ve got to go to the bar there’s a good chance that we’ll pass somebody or see somebody at the bar we know or may engage with. The fact that you’ve got to move around creates the atmosphere that people love about the Bulls Head.”
Though neither Pendyck nor Stoudt provided details of the sale, it is certainly inflated from the price paid when Pendyck purchased it from the Brophys, who purchased the inn from Richard and Joan Vetter in 1997. The Vetters had advertised the historic property in an edition of “Country Inns” magazine at $945,000.
Pendyck said he would still be around the bar even if Stoudt had not kept him under contract. He’s transformed the Bulls Head — from The Herb Shop, 20 E. Main St., a double storefront property leased from the General Sutter Inn to Jim and Barbara Zink from 1979 until 2008 — into one of the places he goes to when he’s back home in England.
“We have so many great customers that really appreciate the place, and it’s so heartwarming that people actually thank me for creating this and tell me that it’s truly made Lititz a better place,” Pendyck said.
And that is where Pendyck and Stoudt say they have the same vision of what the business has become.
“It’s become such a strong part of the community,” Pendyck said. “And I have to admit I didn’t realize what (Stoudt) had known, what a strong community Lititz is.”
In the end, the Bulls Head has become an essential part of life and an extension of the “Lititz experience” that Pendyck expects to extend indefinitely.
“The support that we’ve got from the community, and with the businesses like Clair, Tait, Atomic and others, it really is a special town,” he said.
Patrick Burns is social media editor and staff writer for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 721-4455.
About Patrick Burns
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