Hotel closes with little energy rebound

EAST LIVERPOOL – Due to the rising cost of doing business and a lack of anticipated revenue from the gas and oil industry, the East Liverpool Motor Lodge closed Wednesday.

Tom Wycoff, president of Intenergy Enterprises Inc. and general manager of the motor lodge, confirmed Tuesday night the hotel, as well as T-Bones American Grille and Haircut Express located inside the complex will close.

“The downward trend in local hotel room demand, coupled with the rising cost of maintaining an aging facility has made it impossible to continue operating (the three businesses),” Wycoff said.

“We have continued to invest our personal funds into the hotel over the past four years in anticipation of an upswing in business from the oil and gas industry, but it simply has not come fast enough to offset rising facility, labor and insurance costs,” he said.

Wycoff said the company was “really holding out” for the expected boom in the gas and oil industry and, while he did see “a little bit” of business from workers in that trade, it was inconsistent.

“They are working more toward the southern counties, and there wasn’t much to hang our hats on,” he lamented.

“It’s a tough economic reality. At some point it becomes necessary to face the economic facts and make a prudent, albeit difficult, decision regarding the viability of the business,” he admitted.

The closing will impact 42 employees of the hotel, restaurant and salon, and Wycoff said he expects they will be eligible for unemployment benefits due to lack of work.

Asked whether the building will be sold, Wycoff said, “That will be at the discretion of the bank to take over.”

Wycoff also owes delinquent bed tax to the city, according to Councilman Sherrie Curtis, who said she had previously asked Law Director Charles Payne to pursue collection of that revenue.

According to Curtis, the motor lodge owes in excess of $24,000 in bed tax for previous years and also has not paid current bed taxes since December of last year.

The 69-bed hotel has been in business since 1982 when the city annexed the property on which it began as the Best Western Motor Lodge with owner Al Gloekner at the helm.

Intenergy Enterprises has owned it since November 2006, and Wycoff noted it was a “strong supporter” of local live talent as well as playing host to business functions, weddings and banquets.

“The big thing is I’m going to miss all the interaction we’ve had with the community and fundraisers. I’m sorry for the loss of that venue,” Wycoff said.

“The Intenergy management and ownership wish to thank all the dedicated employees who have contributed their skills in this service of our guests and a special debt of gratitude is extended to the people of the community who have been loyal customers and friends,” Wycoff said.