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Updated: January 3, 2022

The Kennebunk Inn, a significant piece of downtown history, changes hands

old building with bunting Courtesy / B&B Team The Kennebunk Inn dates back to back to 1799.

The buyer of a downtown Kennebunk inn dating back to 1799 is looking forward to preserving its legacy.

Shanna Horner O’Hea and Brian O’Hea sold the Kennebunk Inn, at 45 Main St., to business partners Andrew Warde, Kathryn Anderson and Matthew Blain.

“It’s a beautiful, historic building,” said Warde.

Rick Wolf of the B&B Team and Dave Costello and Nick Farrell of Keller Williams Realty brokered the deal. The purchase price was not disclosed.

The year-round inn has 23 rooms on three floors. The rooms were upgraded during the O’Heas’ tenure. The customer base includes families, couples, singles and business travelers. 

Amenities include a dining room and tavern with a 100-seat capacity. The dining business includes private parties up to 120 and off-site catering. A private meeting room can hold up to 18 guests. The inn’s entry is flanked by a porch facing the main street. A courtyard patio is located on the side of the building. There’s also a staff apartment and two dorm style staff rooms.

“It’s iconic,” said Wolf, who represented the sellers. “It’s been a significant piece of Main Street Kennebunk for over 200 years.”

3 people with champagne bottle
Courtesy / B&B Team
Shanna and Brian O’Hea with broker Rick Wolf.

The property took a couple of years to sell, said Wolf. It was under contract at one point, but the deal was undercut by the pandemic. With the onset of the pandemic and travel restrictions, the sellers closed the inn in early 2020 and undertook various renovation projects, including upgrades in the dining room that included removing old carpeting to reveal original hardwood floors. 

Late this past summer, a new offer came through, said Wolf. The closing took place mid-December.

“It was a good transition and I’m very pleased for Shanna and Brian,” said Wolf. “It continues on in its place as a long-term business in the area.”

Haunted heritage

The original building was built as a private residence in 1799.  It continued as a residence under various owners until 1928, when it was converted to a hotel known as The Tavern and  a 2.5-story wing was added to produce 50 guest rooms, according to the inn’s website.

The name was changed to the Kennebunk Inn in the late 1930s.

According to the website, a feature of the inn is the ghost of a mid-twentieth century clerk who passed away there. The inn is listed on paranormal websites such as

“There are several places in Maine that are considered to be haunted, but the Kennebunk Inn is considered to be one of the most haunted places due to the intensity of the paranormal events that have transpired over the course of the history of the structure,” the website says.

Shanna O’Hea said that, in their 19 years with the inn, they had one experience that was perhaps “a little unexplainable.” Typically, the inn was locked up at night and the lights and music turned off. But one morning, her husband, went downstairs to find the doors open, blaring music and the lights on. 

“Who knows?” she said.

Trained chefs

Brian O’Hea is a native of Long Island, N.Y., who grew up in a three-generation New York City police family. 

Shanna Horner O’Hea has lived in Massachusetts, California, Rhode Island and Illinois. 

The O’Heas met as students at the Culinary Institute of America. They subsequently worked at hotels such as the Four Seasons in New York City and West Palm Beach, Fla., as well as university campuses such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, clubs and resorts and private residences in New York City and London. 

Trained in the culinary industry, both were more interested in the restaurant side of the hospitality business. But when they were in their late 20s and looking into buying their own business, she was advised by other chefs that a combined inn and restaurant would provide multiple revenue streams.

Shanna’s parents, David and Sue Horner, had long owned a summer home in Harpswell. The O’Heas first looked at an inn there, then found the Kennebunk Inn, which seemed ideal because it already had a restaurant. 

“I had never been to Kennebunk or Kennebunkport, but it was a hugely popular tourist destination,” she said. “We thought, ‘Wow, this looks pretty interesting.’”

lobby and stairs
Courtesy / Shanna O’Hea Facebook
Features at the Kennebunk Inn include exposed beams and original hardwood floors.

The O’Heas and the Horners acquired in the inn in January 2003. The younger couple arrived from Westchester County, in New York, during a snowstorm and launched into day-to-day operations as innkeepers and chefs. 

At the time, she said, the inn had a formal dining room and a tavern that were doing quite well. They stuck with the tavern menu but revamped the fine dining menu, eventually renamed the restaurant Academe, and made it brasserie style using local ingredients.

Under the O’Heas, Academe has been named a “neighborhood gem restaurant” by OpenTable, an online restaurant-reservation service company, according to the inn’s website. The couple have made appearances on television, as guest chefs on Holland America cruises, at culinary events, and in national magazines. 

Lobster pot pie

“We got great recognition for our lobster pot pie, which became one of our signature dishes,” she said.

Over the past decade, the dish has received  national notice through outlets such as the Food Network and O, the Oprah Magazine. Under the business name Maine Lobster Pot Pie, they’ve been shipping the product nationwide. At the inn, they also created other recipes such as lobster pizza. 

“It’s pretty great when the state’s most well-known product is lobster,” she said. “No complaints there.”

The shipping business was not included in the inn deal. 

“We’re putting it on pause for the moment, but we want to continue that side,” she said.

Since selling the inn, Brian has taken a position as chef instructor at the Culinary Institute of America, the couple is looking for a co-packer for their pot pie, and the plan is to move to New York this month as they pursue the shipping business. 

Currently, production involves cooking and picking about 150 pounds of lobster per day, making the pies and shipping the same day. The couple hasn’t decided yet if they’ll do other prepared lobster products.

“We’re kind of excited to see what the possibilities are,” she said.


When the O’Heas first bought the business in 2003, it was going well but the inn needed some updates, she said.

They ripped out carpeting and refinished hardwood floors, and gradually performed additional updates to the rooms. 

They decided to list the inn for sale because the Horners were thinking about getting a return on their investment, she said. And the O’Heas were ready for something new.

“Brian and I are chefs, and being on our feet all the time takes a toll,” she said. “You start thinking, ‘Okay, what else do I want to do with my life?’ We love Maine, but we’re ready for another chapter that maybe doesn’t involve working so many hours.”

A deal fell through during the pandemic. 

“That made us say, ‘Okay, let’s get reinvested. We’ve got this time, we’re closed,’” she said. 

So they continued on with renovations, including painting the halls, changing the lighting and redoing bathrooms. 

O’Hea had always wanted to take up the dining room carpet. 

“We found century-old birchwood floors that were stunning,” she said.

Her husband had always wanted to redo the bar. They refinished the top slab using wooden “cobblestones” made from reclaimed wine and whisky casks and manufactured by River Drive Cooperage & Millwork in Buxton. The cobblestones — rectangular wooden tiles — were personalized with inscriptions by inn patrons, set into the bar surface and encased in clear epoxy resin.  

2 people at bar
Courtesy / Shanna O’Hea Facebook
The sellers renovated the bar with insets of personalized whisky barrel “cobblestones.”

“That was a huge project,” said O’Hea. “We heard people say, ‘This is our 'Cheers.' This is our place and we love to return.’”

A good fit

Andrew Warde, a principal buyer, is an Arundel resident and pastor at GracePoint Church in Biddeford. He owns Blue Sky Properties, a real estate consulting firm in Saco whose specialties include working with financially distressed homeowners who need assistance navigating the real estate process.

Early in 2021, Blain, Warde and Zammarelli, a chef, bought Merriland Farm Café in Wells. 

David Costello, the listing broker on the café deal, subsequently brought the Kennebunk Inn to Warde’s attention.

“It seemed to be a really good fit,” said Warde.

The property suited a couple of criteria. 

“I love real estate, particularly historic buildings,” he said. “I love partnering with great people.”

That includes Zammarelli to manage the restaurant and Anderson, who will manage the inn. 

4 people with sign
Courtesy / Andrew Warde
From left, Matthew Blain, Kathryn Anderson, Nicholas Zammarelli and Andrew Warde will continue to run the inn year-round.

“It’s a combination that seemed to make sense and I like opportunities that are unique,” said Warde. 

The partners financed the deal through Kennebunk Savings Bank. Warde had high praise for Becky Jacobs, a commercial relationships manager with the bank.

“She was phenomenal and they were easy to work with,” he said.

Warde noted the recent renovations performed by the O’Heas and said he and his team would take time to get to know the space and business before considering further changes.

“Maybe some slight décor changes,” he said. “The building is in phenomenal condition.”

The partners have retained the staff and have a couple of openings on the kitchen and server side. 

“We’re eager to do a good job as stewards of a great legacy,” he said. “We’re excited to keep that going.”

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct an error in the inn's name.

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