A five-dollar bill, signed and framed, hangs on the wall above the concierge desk at the Orleans Inn. For the Maas family, it's a reminder of how the inn almost didn't make it and of the clientele who saved it.
After pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of a year into seemingly endless renovations, the Maas family re-opened the storied inn on May 15, 1997. The late Herbert Harrison, owner of nearby Nauset Fish and Lobster, had insisted that he be the inn's first customer. That day, he ordered a gin and tonic from the bar, pulled out a $20 bill to pay for the drink, and gave it to Ed's son Ryan, the bartender at the time. But Ryan didn't even have change in the drawer. He gave Harrison the drink on the house. Scrawling his signature on the currency, Harrison left the five dollars as a tip.
Today, 12 years later, Ed and Ryan can laugh as they tell this story because for them times have changed for the better. Mere months into 2009, business is up 20% over the same time last year. On the busiest summer days, it's not unusual to have 500 guests, and on a couple of occasions there have been up to 1,000 at the Route 6A waterfront inn. The inn's 11 guest rooms are often booked two years in advance. The Orleans Inn is regularly on the top-ten best lists of regional magazines and Web sites. And with four of the Maas children and a son-in-law at the helm, the backbone of family is certain to support the inn for years to come.