The Lambert’s Cove Inn will soon change hands, with hoteliers Jon and Stephanie Saunders of Cohasset set to buy the West Tisbury country inn in early January, pending a liquor license transfer.

The couple will appear before the town select board at a virtual public hearing on the liquor license application on Dec. 29.

A notice went out to abutters recently for the license transfer at the 70-seat restaurant, which is part of the 17-room inn.

Mr. and Ms. Saunders are the owners of the Inn on the Sound in Falmouth, which they bought in 2019, as well as two properties in Hull: the Nantasket Beach Hotel, which they’ve owned since mid-2020, and the Beacon Waterfront Inn, which they bought in 2017.

“We . . . kind of stumbled into the hospitality industry,” Mr. Saunders told the Gazette Monday by phone.

“We are very excited about this chapter, which will hopefully begin Jan. 3.”

The couple are buying the inn from Jon and Keya Cain, who have owned it since 2018.

The purchase price has not been yet been disclosed, but the property was on the market with an asking price of $6.9 million. The broker for the sale is

Rebecca V. Conroy of Conroy & Co. Real Estate. The new venture turns another page in the long history of a quintessential Island property.

Built in 1790, the oldest part of the inn was the homestead of the Eliakim Norton family, who farmed hundreds of acres in Lambert’s Cove through the 19th century.

In 1916, wealthy Bostonian Francis Apthorp Foster bought the farmhouse and much of the Norton farm, converting the house into a country manor and ultimately switching his summer home from Edgartown to Lambert’s Cove.

Following Mr Foster’s death in 1966, the expanded farmhouse, outbuildings and some of the surrounding land were purchased by Baltimore educator Robert Thomason and his wife Marjorie.

The Thomasons converted the buildings and established the Lambert’s Cove Inn, which welcomed guests through the 1970s.

In 1981, advertising executive Banning Repplier and his wife Elizabeth bought the property, renaming it the Lambert’s Cove Country Inn. Brochures stored in Gazette archives from a decade later advertise an in-season rate of $95 to $125 nightly, dropping to $85 to $100 in spring and fall and $65 to $90 from December through March.

During nearly a quarter-century of ownership, the Reppliers also helped establish the inn as a wedding venue and its 70-seat restaurant as a dining destination offering locally-grown food.

Atlanta event planners Scott Jones and Kell Hicklin bought the property in 2005 for $4 million.

Mr. Jones and Mr. Hicklin reclaimed the original Lambert’s Cove Inn name and continued to emphasize the inn’s three core businesses: overnight guests, weddings and dining.

In 2018, they sold the inn to the Cains for $5.5 million.

First-time hoteliers, the Cains sought to expand the property with five guest cabins, but were denied by the West Tisbury zoning board of appeals in 2019. The inn is a pre-existing nonconforming use in a residential area.

In September of this year, the Cains put the inn on the market.

Mr. Saunders said few changes are planned, and he said he and his wife want to be sensitive to the surrounding residential neighborhood.

“We don’t plan to make any significant changes, but what we do plan to do is definitely engage with the community much more, and reduce a lot of the headaches that come with living near the inn,” he said.

“We plan to remain open, not necessarily year round, but for a good portion of the year — specifically the dining [so] we can welcome the community, their visitors and their family to come join us for a longer season.”

At the public hearing next week, Mr. Saunders said his wife, a social worker with the Cohasset elder affairs department, will present the couple’s application for the wine and malt liquor license.

“She’s going to continue to be a social worker, but she’s going to handle the liquor license and do most of the talking,” he said.

The town is accepting written comments until 3 p.m. Dec. 27 by email at or in person at town hall, according to the hearing notice.