South Lake Tahoe’s Black Bear Inn to reopen with new owners |

South Lake Tahoe’s Black Bear Inn to reopen with new owners

Claire Cudahy
South Lake Tahoe residents Rachel and Greg Carlson purchased the Black Bear Inn on Ski Run Boulevard from Kevin Chandler and Jerry Birdwell, who designed and built the rustic bed and breakfast 18 years ago.
Claire Cudahy / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

After 18 years of service, Black Bear Inn owners Kevin Chandler and Jerry Birdwell are passing the torch.

On March 14 Chandler and Birdwell signed the papers to finalize the sale of the Ski Run Boulevard bed and breakfast to South Lake Tahoe residents Rachel and Greg Carlson.

“It was just time. It was hard to give it up, but we really feel that Greg and Rachel will enjoy it just as much as we have,” said Birdwell. “They have the personalities and the abilities to do it, and we are excited to see them take the Black Bear Inn to the next level.”

Birdwell and Chandler, who moved to the South Shore from Dallas, designed and built the Black Bear Inn from the ground up, filling the space with one-of-a-kind antiques and bringing to life an inn they had dreamed of for years.

“We bought the land in ’95. It took us three years to get the building permits, we started construction in ’98 and opened on March the fifth in ’99,” said Birdwell.

“I was a criminal defense lawyer and Kevin was in computers, so we had not had a background in hospitality at all. It’s something we wanted to do and had dreamed about doing.”

The Black Bear Inn’s rustic interior, featuring beams milled from trees on the property and an old local ranch and a striking floor-to-ceiling fireplace made of rivers rocks, was a big part of what attracted the Carlsons to the property.

“It’s a beautiful property right in the heart of South Lake Tahoe, but once you step on the property it feels secluded,” said Rachel. “They have these giant trees on the property, yet you are only a few blocks from the lake and a few blocks from the mountains.”

After a few upgrades to bedding and linens in the five rooms in the main lodge and the three cabins on the property, the Carlsons will re-open the Black Bear Inn to guests on April 14.

“We really want to focus on different events that will not only draw people to the area, but be something that the community can take part in,” said Rachel. “We are looking at focusing on pop-up dinners, winemaker events, tastings. So different pop-up events that could enhance the experience of both the guests and the community.”

Rachel is leaving her position as the senior marketing manager at Heavenly and Kirkwood mountain resorts to focus on running the inn — which contains living quarters for her, Greg and the new inn-dog, Lola — and cooking up breakfast for the guests.

“I think that cinnamon rolls will be my specialty,” she added.

As for Chandler and Birdwell, you can find them on their farm in Sutter Creek as they begin the search for another cabin to call home in South Lake Tahoe.

The Black Bear Inn is located at 1202 Ski Run Blvd.

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