On Easter Sunday, 1955, Roland ‘Aime’ and Rita Lafrance took the biggest risk of their lives when they opened a family restaurant in Westport, MA, named it White’s, hired customer service driven employees and embarked on a family enterprise. Aime assumed responsibility for the kitchen and Rita oversaw the ‘front of the house’ – the service delivery side. Through constant attention to each customer and each detail, the business grew. White’s developed a reputation for fine family dining, later becoming the location of choice for wedding receptions, and other banquets and functions.
Their only child, Richard, joined the business and learned every aspect of running a highly successful restaurant/banquet facility. Over time, he took a more pivotal role and developed ideas for the growth and expansion of the business plan. For example, having to disappoint people looking to hold large parties at White’s led to the addition of the Grand Salon in 1985, an addition which added 9,800 square feet, and greater flexibility to the business.
Lafrance Hospitality Company took a step in a new direction in 1989, with the opening of it’s first limited service Hampton Inn hotel, adjacent to White’s of Westport. This Hampton Inn was joined by two more in 1995 and 2000, respectively, with the Fairhaven/New Bedford Hampton Inn and the Franklin, MA Hampton Inn. With the sale of the Fairhaven and Franklin Hampton Inn properties in 2007 to the Claremont Company, Lafrance launched it’s the first non-owned Hotel Service Contracts.
The restaurant/banquet side of the business expanded, also, with the purchase of what was to become Bittersweet Farm Restaurant and Tavern in Westport, in 1998 and Rachel’s Lakeside, a banquet/function facility in Dartmouth, MA in 2002. Richard and Muriel’s children worked in the business; and several, Christian, Sean, Eric and their son-in law, Charlie have made it their careers. Lafrance Hospitality has developed an extended ‘family’ also, with many long-term employees, who have grown along with the business.
Lafrance Hospitality Company has been very busy over the past eight years. Adding to the Westport hotel, Lafrance Hospitality took the exciting step of opening a new hotel, under a new flag, a Comfort Inn and Suites, in Dover, New Hampshire. The Seacoast area of New Hampshire bears many similarities to the Southcoast Region of Massachusetts and is a good fit for the overall direction of the company. In 2007, Lafrance Hospitality developed a 122 room Hampton Inn & Suites in Plymouth, MA – America’s Home Town. Next, was a second Comfort Inn & Suites nestled in the beautiful western lakes and mountains region of Wilton, Maine. A second and third Dover property, the Hampton Inn and the Homewood Suites, are a joint venture with the Bowden Group. In 2010, the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott & Waypoint Event Center openined in Historic Downtown New Bedford, MA, and has since won many awards for its near perfect guest service scores. 2012 brought on the acquisition of a Holiday Inn Express in Milford, Massachusetts and the opening of Ten Cousins Brick Oven, on Main Road in Westport, MA.
In 2015, Lafrance Hospitality opened the TownePlace Suites by Marriott Wareham Buzzards Bay hotel at Rosebrook Place: a mixed-use development by the A.D. Makepeace Company just off I-495/I-195 in Wareham, MA. The hotel, like the New Bedford property, has an adjoining event center, Rosebrook Event Center, capable of hosting events up to 400 people. The hotel and event center overlook picturesque cranberry bogs and have received many awards from local and international organizations, including “Best Hotel Opening” from Marriott International, and Economic Impact Awards from Boston based MassECON, and the New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to the company’s New England hotel properties, Lafrance Hospitality also acquired four hotel properties in Florida through various partnerships while assuming management control in a select few.
Lafrance Hospitality sold their Dover, NH Hampton Inn in 2015, and later, in 2016, the Comfort Inn & Suites, Dover, NH hotel to the same company. 2016 brought on new challenges to Lafrance Hospitality as the company added three new hotel properties within six months of each other. Courtyard by Marriott Boston Littleton, located at The Point in Littleton, MA, a mixed-use retail destination on I-495, opened in May of 2016 and soon after, a Fairfield Inn & Suites hotel in Plymouth, NH, at the foothills of the White Mountains, opened in September 2016. Also in September, the company acquired the Residence Inn North Conway hotel in New Hampshire from True North Hotel Group. The property is in a great leisure destination market, catering to four seasons of family fun and adventure.
At the same time, it was announced that Lafrance Hospitality had purchased a historic building in New Bedford, MA with plans to convert it into a food service operation, adding to the booming restaurant and brewery scene in New Bedford’s historic district. In April, President, Richard Lafrance, and V.P. Hotels, Timothy Burkhardt traveled to California to accept another ‘Best Opening Award’ from Marriott International this time for the successful opening of the Courtyard Littleton Boston hotel. The entire team is extremely proud of their accomplishments and Lafrance Hospitality is poised to achieve many more successes in years to come, with both their restaurant and hotel operations.