Neely said she learned of the news that one bidder had begun due diligence in a voice mail left for her on June 27.
Neely's group of town residents, formed in April to make a bid for the inn and known as Portola Valley Community Roadhouse, LLC, stepped aside from the bidding on June 26, Neely said. She did not have the figure for the winning bid, she said, but final offers had to be at least $3.8 million.
Neely would not identify the group that won the bid, but she noted that she met with those involved during the bidding and that the group is headed by a couple who are local to Portola Valley.
"I know them and like them," she said. "We (in the Roadhouse group) just all felt confident that they have a similar vision for the place and that they will do a good job stewarding its future."
"We have a similar vision for the place in terms of preserving its character and making improvements in alignment with that character," she said.
"Personally, I just feel really, really excited for these people and grateful to them," she said.
The third bidder, also a group, was made up of people also local to Portola Valley, she said. "It's been a really fascinating story (as to) just how much the community cares about this place," she said.
The Roadhouse group "decided to not make a bid in the final round because the money was feeling more and more stretched," Neely said, "and because we were aware that this other party was one of the groups still in the game and we found them to be very agreeable."
Asked about the high failure rate of restaurants, Neely acknowledged that the business is "very risky." But, she added, "if any place has a good chance of being a success, it's a restaurant that hasn't closed in 165 years."
The owners would probably partner with an experienced restaurant operator, of whom there is no shortage, Neely said.
The Alpine Inn is registered as both a state and a federal landmark. In Portola Valley's general plan, in the chapter on historic resources, the inn is labeled as a structure to be preserved.
A bronze tablet embedded in a boulder outside the inn notes that the building dates from the 1850s, that it was built by one Felix Buelna, and that it served "as a gambling retreat and meeting place for Mexican-Californios."
"It was strategically located on the earliest trail used both by rancheros and American settlers crossing the peninsula to the coast," the tablet continues. "Acquired by an American in 1868, it has continued to serve under various names as a roadhouse and saloon."
Any proposals for altering or remodeling the building would have to take into consideration its history, and might involve the Town Council, Portola Valley Town Historian Nancy Lund told The Almanac.
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