When Matt and Darlene Ranzau purchased the historic Thorp House Inn & Cottages in early January 2019, they had yet to reflect on the extraordinary story behind how the purchase came to be.
Matt and Darlene first visited Thorp House Inn during their honeymoon in September 1993. Matt, a Wisconsin native, was serving in the Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton at the time, and the newly married couple did not have very much money to spend for their honeymoon. Matt grew up going to Door County and visiting family members around the state, where he developed fond memories during his childhood. The couple decided to go to Wisconsin so Darlene could meet Matt’s family. During this trip they decided to go to Door County and picked the Thorp House Inn to stay. They chose to stay in the Teal cottage and enjoyed their stay in the area, taking in many of the abundant activities Door County has to offer.
Fast forward 24 years. In 2017 Matt was trying to surprise Darlene for their upcoming 25th wedding anniversary in September 2018. After much inner debate, he decided to ‘recreate’ their honeymoon experience by booking the same Teal cottage at the Thorp House Inn where they stayed over two decades earlier. Matt booked the cottage and when the couple arrived, Darlene had no idea but was amazed and surprised by what she found. Although some remodeling had been done to Teal cottage, many of the pieces inside remained the same, which created some nostalgia for the couple.
Both Matt and Darlene had long-wanted to own a business but just could not decide on what kind of business or where the business should be located. Prior to traveling to Door County for their 25th anniversary the couple had narrowed their focus to lodging properties in Door County. When they asked the current owner if they could sit and pick her brain about innkeeping, they had no idea what would happen next. After asking questions for some time, Matt sensed that the owner may be interested in selling her inn. So, he asked her if she knew anyone in her circle who may want to sell their lodging property. The owner responded that she had been considering selling the inn. After further discussion, the three of them decided to explore what it would look like to transfer ownership. Within only several weeks, Matt and Darlene were under contract to purchase Thorp House Inn.
So, now Matt and Darlene can call themselves Door County innkeepers, fulfilling a long-time dream of owning and running a business, and the story of how they got here is as remarkable as Door County is itself.