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The Reluctant Panther Inn and Restaurant

The Reluctant Panther Inn and Restaurant

The Reluctant Panther Inn and Restaurant is located in Manchester Village, Vermont. Visitors to the establishment are given the option to choose from 20 available guestrooms that are divided among three separate buildings on the premises. Complimentary breakfast baskets are provided for all patrons who are staying at the inn. A few food items that may be offered in the basket are a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon, a yogurt and granola parfait, and cereal, to name a few. The Reluctant Panther Restaurant can be found in the Main House, as well as 11 of the guestrooms. Inside the Mary Porter House and the Carriage House, the other nine units can be found. In 2005, the Main House was reconstructed after having suffered an unfortunate fire; however, before this fire took place, the buildings dated back to circa the 1850s, according to Morgan, the general manager.


The Reluctant Panther Inn and Restaurant is situated on an expanse of approximately two acres in the southern region of Vermont. A total of 20 rooms are available for visitors to reserve. All 20 units are divided among three of the following buildings: the Main House, the Mary Porter House, and the Carriage House. The Main Inn contains 11 rooms plus the on-site restaurant, while the other two homes feature nine rooms. According to the general manager, Morgan, "The units in the main building are the most popular, in general, because people like to be near the restaurant." The Mary Porter House and the Carriage House are characterized by wood floors and porches. The interior of each building on the grounds is decorated with a considerable amount of antiques, giving it a "New England feel," as stated by Morgan. 

All 20 guestrooms feature a number of amenities including a bed, a tub and shower, a TV, Wi-Fi, and a fridge, among others. Complimentary parking is additionally offered to patrons, and it should be noted as well that occasionally pastries are provided in the lobby for guests.

One aspect of the establishment that is frequently mentioned in guest reviews is the breakfast baskets that The Reluctant Panther Inn gives to their guests. The breakfast baskets are included in the guestroom rates. Upon arrival, patrons are given a form in their room that allows them to pick a time of delivery for their breakfast basket between 7:30 and 10:00 AM. All baskets come with a house-made pastry, fruit, and the guest's choice of entrée. Some of the items that one can expect to be served include a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon, a yogurt and granola parfait, cereal, and either a bacon or vegetarian breakfast sandwich. Guests are also given the choice of coffee or juice to partner with their meal. These breakfast baskets can be brought to the dining area or the guestrooms, depending on what the patron prefers. Morgan, the general manager, notes that they can accommodate dietary restrictions, and the owner tries to talk to guests about such dietary needs beforehand.

The Reluctant Panther Inn features an on-site restaurant, and it is open to those who are staying at the property as well as the general public. A two-night stay package includes complimentary dinner at the restaurant, but aside from this, guests are required to pay an extra cost for dinner, just as the general public is. The chef who cooks the food, Sigal Rocklin, is from northern Israel, and Morgan remarks that the cuisine that is served has "a little bit of Israel flair;" however, the majority of the food is "locally influenced." Some of the available food items are salads, soups, cheese entrées, short ribs, lamb, chicken, scallops, risotto, and various appetizers. The Reluctant Panther Inn and Restaurant's official website describes the food as "innovative, farm-fresh classics." Moreover, the menu changes seasonally. In addition to this menu, a selection of wines, Vermont beers, and specialty cocktails are also available to guests. The restaurant begins serving food at around 5:30 PM and the last seating is around 8:30 PM. Every Sunday and Monday The Reluctant Panther Restaurant is closed.

Outside the confines of the buildings, a decorative pond covers a portion of the acreage. The backyard also provides outdoor seating, where dinner can be served. A patio with sheltering and mountain views can additionally be found in this area. Beyond the borders of the property, patrons can visit a number of attractions in close proximity to The Reluctant Panther Inn and Restaurant. One such touristic draw is Hildene, a site that had previously served as Robert Todd Lincoln's home. Robert Todd Lincoln is most commonly known for being the son of Abraham Lincoln, a former president of the United States. Currently, tours of the house are offered to visitors, and the site is also home to a few farm animals, according to Morgan. Another nearby attraction is the Vermont Country Store in Weston, located about 20 minutes away from the property. There, guests can purchase various Vermont products, as well as a few food items. 

Furthermore, a fair amount of visitors come to the area to engage in hiking, fly fishing, and, during the winter, skiing. Designer outlets such as Brooks Brothers, Armani, and Marimekko also receive a considerable number of tourists and can be found nearby. Aside from The Reluctant Panther Restaurant, which the owners and staff recommend to their patrons, they also suggest Silver Fork and Ye Old Tavern, which is set in a New England-style building. Morgan comments that Ye Olde Tavern is "one of the oldest taverns in the country."


Oftentimes, The Reluctant Panther Inn and Restaurant allows their guests to host rehearsal dinners or small weddings. For those who host an event at The Reluctant Panther Restaurant, the dining area can cater to events with an occupancy limit of 65 visitors for a seated dinner. Though the property may not host events of their own, they do provide patrons with a massage service, available upon request. The masseuse can provide this service in the guest's room. If necessary, an extra cot can additionally be brought to visitors' rooms.

A few noteworthy policies are implemented at the establishment, and visitors must act in accordance with these guidelines. Six of the twenty rooms are designated as pet-friendly. The property does not enforce an age limit restriction for guests, and therefore children are welcome to stay at The Reluctant Panther Inn. Lastly, smoking indoors is prohibited on the premises, and quiet time begins roughly around 11:00 PM.

Morgan, the general manager of The Reluctant Panther Inn and Restaurant, says that they want their guests to feel "like they're at home and well taken care of." In an attempt to provide such an experience for visitors, the staff put effort into personally showing guests their rooms upon arrival. As the staff shows them their rooms, they also explain to patrons how the AC/heating works, as well as other functions in the guestrooms. Interaction between the staff and patrons occurs often, and Morgan remarks that they are "here to help with activities, and we can plan all sorts of things" if people are interested. Morgan says that one of her favorite parts of being the general manager is "interacting with guests, hearing all of their stories, and getting to know them well." The staff, in particular, are frequently mentioned in visitor reviews, and Morgan considers the staff to be a unique aspect of the property. Other features of the establishment that are commented on in reviews include the service provided by the housekeepers, the restaurant, and the décor throughout the three buildings. One guest who previously stayed at the inn said, "The stay was comfortable and relaxing, with spacious suites and a feeling of home. The staff were all friendly and helpful. The food at the restaurant was fantastic, even down to the pre-meal house-made bread."

The Reluctant Panther Inn and Restaurant is primarily geared toward couples; however, people over the age of 50 constitute most of the demographics. Morgan, the general manager, mentions that people who come for weddings "bring us a younger crowd." Many repeat guests come to the inn as well. Online sources and word of mouth are the two most prominent forms of advertisement for the inn. The property is open year-round, though it closes from two weeks to a month each April for a "spring refresh," as Morgan calls it. During this temporary closure, the inn undergoes "clean up after winter, paint touchup, and other projects before summer," Morgan explains. She also says that this time is a break for the staff.


In 2005, The Reluctant Panther Inn and Restaurant was burned down and rebuilt shortly after. This fire primarily affected the Main House without reaching the Mary Porter House and the Carriage House. Due to this, the Mary Porter House and the Carriage House have maintained their historical nature much more in comparison to the Main House.

Wood and Joan Cornell, the owners who originally converted it into a bed and breakfast, came from New York with the intention to open a bed and breakfast. The establishment became such in 1962; however, the buildings were constructed circa 1850, according to Morgan, the general manager. Forty years after Wood and Joan managed the business, the property had changed ownership three times, still preserving the name as The Reluctant Panther Inn and Restaurant. Morgan explains that the buildings were originally across the street from where they currently reside, but "local lore has it that the house was simply put on wheels and dragged across the street to the location that it held for more than 100 years until it was destroyed by fire," as reported on The Reluctant Panther Inn and Restaurant website.

The name of the property, The Reluctant Panther, derives from a story that regards Joan and Wood Cornell and the panthers that would roam the mountains of the region. The property's website explains that "in Vermont lore, the panther stood for independence and ferocity in the defense of home territory." It further tells about the conversation Joan and Wood were having one day, as Wood said, "With all the people around, they're reluctant to come out," regarding the panthers. To which Joan replied with, "Hmm, reluctant panthers," thus the name came to be.

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39 West Road
Manchester, Vermont 05254
United States


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