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New owners take reins at hotel

The Murphys Historic Hotel will be under new ownership near the end of this month as a trio with Tuolumne County roots takes the reins.

Food and beverage manager Brian Goss, 31, a Sonora High School graduate who now lives in Murphys, along with Summerville High alum Kevin Clerico, 31, of Sonora, and Columbia College culinary arts graduate Joel Lacitignola, 33, of Sonora, have been the management team for several years at the 1856-built hotel owned since 2003 by Dorian Faught of Angels Camp.

They will soon be the owners.

Goss said the transition is occurring under an agreement the four made about three years ago.

“Dorian was wanting to retire,” Goss said. “He was asking me to come up with some backers … there was no way I could say no.”

Enter Lacitignola, who Goss met at Columbia and worked with for about five years at the City Hotel. He is married to Marcy Camacho and was involved with her family’s Sonora taqueria.

Add Clerico, who has tended bar at Eproson House, in Twain Harte, and the Murphys Hotel, and also worked at Gus’s Steakhouse in Sonora.

Goss is also a veteran of the Snowshoe Brewing Co. in Standard.

He spent most of his adult life in the food and beverage industry before nearly completing a teaching certification.

“I sold my boat, my quad … trying to pay for it,” Goss said. “Then, knowing I wouldn’t ever be happy on a teacher’s salary, I went back in the food and beverage business.”

He said he began to think about owning a restaurant five to 10 years ago. Goss has been the food and beverage manager for the Murphys Hotel for about eight and a half years.

“It’s a great place,” he said. “I’ve been having family reunions two blocks my whole life.”

Lacitignola also saw the hotel as an outstanding opportunity.

“I won’t have to work at all eventually if all goes as planned. I can retire someday,” he smiled. “I have a good passion and a love for cooking and creating food and I look forward to learning new aspects of the business, too.”

The sale comes with an option to buy the property as well as the business in another few years, Goss said.

He said he feels confident as the hotel has been able to thrive even in a down economy.

“The last three years have been busier than ever,” Goss said. “Of course, we’ve all been working about 60 hours a week to make sure it’s the best it can be.”

He said he thinks the transition will be smooth and guests will hardly notice a change.

“It’s going to be continuous upgrades being done as we have been under Dorian,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of thoughts and ideas we’re going to put into place … but we’re going to keep all the staples on the menu. There’s not going to be any big changes. There’s no reason to try and change a good thing.”

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