Jay and Denise Hartz have put Perry’s Hotel Pattee up for sale, and want you to know that it will continue to run normally.
“Unfortunately, what’s gotten out there a little bit with some people is that the hotel is closing and that is not the message we want – that’s not the truth,” Hartz said. “The truth is that the hotel is for sale - it’s a big difference.”
After teaming up with a brokerage firm that specializes in selling boutique hotels, the Hartz decision to sell the Hotel was made public. The offer, listed on Inn Partners, is currently set at $2.5 million.
The news came as a shock to many, as the Hartz, previous St. Louis residents, took over the hotel nearly fours ago. After putting in continuous seventy-hour work weeks, the duo are ready to regroup, but understand the sale process may be tedious.
“Our business never closes – holidays, weekends, nights,” Hartz explained. “We want to regroup and take care of ourselves physically and mentally and take care of our family and be there.”
“Denise and I are committed to staying here until a sale takes place, but we’re also committed to stay here for a couple of years because it might take that long.”
The potential owner is walking into a preservation piece of Perry, and a center point of attraction for Perry, Hartz described.
“This is the icon,” Hartz said.
In a letter submitted to the public from Jay and Denise, the couple describe the Hotel’s future as “thriving” and “bright.”
In 2012, both Jay and Denise Hartz contemplated purchasing the hotel, which, at the time, was still running. The price was a factor, as it was currently set higher than the Hartz expected.
One year later, the hotel was shut down, dropping the initial set price.
“For a whole year we had been thinking about it, Hartz recalled. “A year later, you’re a little bit more prepared and have more visions,” Hartz recalled.
The Hotel was dark when owner Hartz entered it after using the key he was given from the bank.
Denise and Jay would build the Hotel from the ground up, initially buying a space without employees staffed, menus created, telephones or computer systems in use, as well as occupancy and license permits.
“I took the leap of faith,” Hartz described about the hotel purchase. “I told a lot of our people that failure is not an option, and I’m not going to let it fail because I would lose everything.”
The Hartz began to work.
After taking over the hotel on September 20, 2013, the Hotel would later open its doors shy of a month-and-a-half later to a well-known event in Perry: Art on the Prairie.
The Hartz welcomed new employees and family members to try out the Hotel a week before it was open to the public. The two-day orientation provided guests with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as the opportunity to practice their job before the grand opening.
Waiters took orders, cooks made dinner, and the Hotel momentarily came to life.
“We fumbled, but everybody knew it was practice,” Hartz said. “I told my staff, ‘In this small town and any small town, you have one time to do it right.”
Preparations were made for the November opening in order to avoid the chance of disappointing the community or being bombarded by customers.
The Hotel Pattee quietly opened on a Monday, hoping to avoid an influx of customers that would enter the grounds at the start of Art on the Prairie on Friday, November 4.
“There was a lot of curiosity,” Hartz describes. “I wanted to kind of gradually work up to Friday and that’s we ended up doing.”
Stumped, Hartz wasn’t able to recall the first customer or day the Hotel opened.
“That first month or so was just go-go-go,” Hartz said.
Staff today is made up of 45-48 individuals, many of which helped bring the hotel back to life and attended the two-day orientation.
“We have a lot of the same original employees, in fact in our employee meeting, I thanked those folks first,” Hartz said. “They were here before the opening, scrubbing the floors, getting everything ready.”
Since it’s 2013 ownership, the Hartz have been recognized and received awards for their efforts. In 2015, Jay Hartz was awarded “Outstanding Leadership” and “Outstanding Niche Marketing Initiative” from the Iowa Tourism Awards.
“This is honest to God truth,” Hartz began. “We’ve got awards, and every time I got an award, I was more proud to bring that home to Perry than I was for us personally, because everybody is proud of this place.”
“That’s important – this reputation is important to us.”
Preserving the hotel and catering to the community are two components that Hartz emphasized in what an ideal owner would amount to be.
“It [Hotel Pattee] needs to be taken care of, but it’s in the right place to do that,” Hartz said. “The community is definitely behind supporting the hotel, but you’ve got to find a buyer, you’ve got to find somebody who wants to come in and work day in and day out.”
Leaving isn’t going to be easy for the duo.
So yeah it is going to be hard - its hard right now,” Hartz said. “Denise said to the group [employees from the Hotel] last night, ‘We have four kids but this is like our fifth child.’”
Interest has begun to accumulate, but the Hartz ask to pass on the word of the Hotel looking for new ownership.
“Years ago, our kids were little and we went to one of my cousin’s weddings in a small town in Missouri, and it was a historic hotel,” Hartz recalled. “It was an old river town, and I remember the owner being in there and he was active, managing the hotel and talking to customers.”
“That always kind of stuck with me.”
Catering to the Hotel has been important to the Hartz since they first stepped foot in the dark entrance.
“I’m just sitting here looking at the woodwork and this thing is almost unreal,” Hartz gushes, looking around the Hotel. “You could envision this in a big downtown district, but here in a small town – I still look around and pay attention to detail; it needs to be preserved.”