Bloomington’s Grant Street Inn closed its doors Jan. 16 as the local hospitality industry struggles under the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an announcement on the inn’s Facebook page. This is the second time it has closed since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The inn is scheduled to reopen May 1, but may postpone its reopening or close permanently if the business does not secure enough room reservations by then, said Rebecca Ellison, marketing specialist for CFC Properties. CFC Properties owns the inn.
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“The Grant Street Inn could cease to exist if we don’t get the support that we need,” hospitality manager Paul Wagoner said.
The inn first closed on March 19 for health and safety reasons as the novel coronavirus began to spread across the United States, President of CFC Properties Jim Murphy said. It reopened in July to meet recovered traveling demands and have the staff back to work, Ellison said.
This year marks the inn’s 30th anniversary since the Grant Street Inn first opened.
In 1990, the Cook family bought the then-107-year-old Ziegler House to save it from potential demolition, according to the inn’s website. The family, which founded Cook Medical and CFC Properties, moved the house down Seventh Street from behind the First Presbyterian Church to its current location at 310 N. Grant St.
Now the inn’s five buildings and 40 rooms occupy an entire block, the century-old Ziegler House sitting at the front of the compound.
Wagoner has overseen the inn for more than 17 years, or more than half of its lifespan since its opening in 1991. He said many guests have been regulars for years, even decades.
Wagoner said what makes Grant Street Inn special is the staff’s connection with guests.
“We know these guests,” he said. “We know what rooms they like. We know what they like for breakfast. We know their kids.”
Around 70% of the inn’s guests stay there for IU events, Wagoner said. He said the past year has been difficult because IU canceled most in-person events such as Little 500 and the May and December commencement ceremonies.
Before the pandemic, the inn’s occupancy rate averaged around 70% annually, Wagoner said. December’s occupancy rate dropped 67% as a result of the pandemic.
Wagoner said he hopes to host guests coming to Bloomington to attend IU’s spring commencement ceremony after the inn reopens on May 1. He said although all 40 rooms are already sold out for that time, the inn will take a sizable hit if the ceremony is online and all guests cancel their room reservations.
Murphy said CFC Properties decided not to apply for state or federal assistance for the inn, which it owns, but declined to comment on why.
The inn has been part of Wagoner’s life since his mid-30s, he said. He had thought he would retire here, but the sudden strike of the pandemic has made that uncertain.
“From the day I walked into Grant Street Inn to sitting here right now – it’s very sentimental to me,” he said. “Will I be able to go out in retirement with the Grant Street Inn or in another role?”