Lenhart Hotel sold after 142 years | News, Sports, Jobs

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Photos submitted The Lenhart Hotel is being sold, after 142 years of family ownership. Co-owners Bebe Johnson and John Johnston, Jr. are stepping down from the hotel business as the new owners prepare to make major improvements to the hotel.

After 142 years in the family, the Lenhart Hotel at Bemus Point is in the process of being sold.

The Lenhart Hotel co-owners and siblings, Bebe Johnston and John Lenhart Johnston, Jr., have already signed a purchase agreement with the new owners. however, the process of officially selling the hotel is still ongoing.

John Johnston said it was time for him and his sister to retire from the hospitality business due to their age.

“We are not getting any younger” he said. “I’m going to be 72, my sister is going to be 69 and my wife is the same age as that.”

With no heirs able to take over the business, the siblings decided to sell the historic hotel to the new owners who expressed a desire to make changes to the hotel while honoring the historic legacy of the Lenhart Hotel. .

After struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lenhart Hotel had a successful summer season this year. Johnston said it would have been even more successful if they had managed to hire enough employees.

“We just can’t find employees” he said. “We had to replace. I had to work every night shift every weekend, a little hard on us old people. It was a good season for what we did, but we needed about 5-10 more employees to really make it happen.

After facing unique challenges with the hospitality industry over the past two years, the Johnstons are ready to move on and experience new things. Nonetheless, they both expressed bittersweet feelings about the sale of the hotel.

“We can’t wait to rest” Johnson said. “We are happy to no longer have to work, but we have been letting go of our family heritage for 142 years. We just hope people enjoy the hotel in the future here.

Johnston said he and his sister grew up in the hotel business and became very close to many loyal Lenhart Hotel guests over the years.

“We will miss people” he said.

Although hotel management and maintenance can be hard work, Johnston said they enjoy working in the hospitality industry. He said the experience was rewarding because people really appreciated what the siblings provided to the hotel.

Johnston believes the hotel has had a positive impact on the community. Despite community concerns about the future of the hotel, Johnston said the process of transferring ownership of the hotel to the new owners will be smooth.

“Things might be a little different with the new owners as they are planning to do quite a bit of renovation, but they want to keep the style, feel and history of the hotel.” Johnson said. “They are going to do a lot of renovations in the lobby. They are installing an elevator, moving the bar from one side of the hotel to the other, which is important, but they want to take advantage of the hotel’s history.

The Johnstons plan to leave behind most of what they described as “historical paraphernalia”.

Johnston said the new owners requested that the family portraits remain at the Lenhart Hotel, along with most furniture and other items, to maintain a historic feel at the hotel.

“We leave 99% of things”, he said. “Everything in the hotel goes with it.”

The Lenhart Hotel traditionally closes Labor Day through Memorial Day. While the hotel’s renovations could affect the hotel’s reopening, Johnston said the new owners have requested that they accept bookings for next year and intend to honor those bookings as best as possible. .

Johnston said he expects the new owners to have their contractors begin renovations to the hotel as soon as the sale closes.

“We have already signed a sales contract”, he said. “They are getting the funding. We hope to have a close, hopefully by October 1st, but rumor has it that it could be a bit longer depending on how quickly the banks can get things done.

While the future of the Lenhart Hotel holds exciting changes, the Johnstons already have plans for retirement.

Baby Johnston bought a house in Florida. On the other hand, John Johnston and his wife plan to travel for six to nine months before eventually settling in the Pittsburgh area.

Before the Lenhart Hotel closed for the last time under Johnstons ownership, the hotel held a final day of celebration for the community on Labor Day.

“Everyone knew it was our last day, so a lot of people from the community showed up,” said John Johnston. “The word bittersweet was used. Many guests came back just to say goodbye.


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