Back ‘inn’ the saddle

The Torkkos had planned to retire when they sold the Everest Inn last year. Now they’re again operating the historic bed and breakfast


Dave and Lori Torkko thought they had retired from the Everest Inn, but are back in business again after the previous owners left to pursue other work.

After nearly two decades running the historic and inviting Everest Inn, Dave and Lori Torkko thought they could finally retire.

Er, well, not just yet, it turns out.

After less than a year of what David Torkko says turned out to be a long vacation, the Torkkos are back running the Everest Inn, on Wausau’s east side just northeast of downtown.

The Torkkos sold Everest Inn last year to Lenita Valdez who, along with Chris Carvajal, ran the bed and breakfast, updating its website and expanded online services. Valdez and Carvajal moved up from El Paso, Texas after falling in love with Wausau and the Everest Inn.

But the lifestyle of operating an inn didn’t work out for the couple, David Torkko says, so he and his wife are back in possession of the historic bed and breakfast.

Innkeeping can be an unusual line of work: one has to be “on” all the time, and ready to converse with guests and provide a pleasant experience, Lori Torkko says. And, David adds, that also means being able to read which guests want to converse and socialize, and which guests prefer to be left alone.

For the Torkkos, who ran the inn for 19 years before turning it over to Valdez and Carvajal, stepping back into the role of innkeepers was like putting on an old shoe—it’s comfortable and the fit is familiar. The Torkkos officially took possession on Sept. 11.

The innkeeper lifestyle wasn’t much of a change for the Torkkos, who grew up on family farms and are used to the idea of having guests over all the time. Stepping through the door at the Everest Inn, that’s immediately evident. The warm charm of hospitality is what they strive for in taking care of guests. “Treat your guests as if they were kings and queens, keep everything immaculately maintained, and give them a nice breakfast,” David says.

David worked in real estate when he and Lori first moved to Wausau, and the Torkkos ran a caramel corn business in the Wausau Center mall nearly from the time the mall opened until 1998, when they bought the Everest Inn.

The inn has a wall of notable guests who have stayed there, the most famous being Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills and Nash when he played at the Grand Theater. It was his visit, in fact, that inspired the famous signature wall after the inn gave him a place to stay when Stills’ previous accommodations fell through.

The Torkkos don’t plan to keep the inn for many years— after all, they have a retirement to get to. But they plan to enjoy the historic and familiar 1908-built home while they have it again.

“We had a guest last night who said they never had stayed in a bed and breakfast before,” Lori Torkko says. “They said ‘this feels just like home.’ That’s what we want, we want them to feel good.”