By Rebecca LaBorde
Ellicottville’s Jefferson Inn is a unique bed & breakfast that offers a three-course breakfast daily and a hot tub to ease the stress of the day.
Jean Kirsch, originally from West Seneca, worked on Wall Street in New York City for 22 years. During that time, her job also included living part of that time in England. Kirsch’s goal had always been to get out of the banking industry and buy a bed & breakfast in Connecticut. That goal changed after she attended Ellicottville’s Fall Fest with friends, who have a second home here, and decided this was where she wanted to pursue her dream. Seven years ago, she purchased the Jefferson Inn, which is its original name, and moved onto the premises in order to manage her business more effectively.
The Jefferson Inn was built in 1995 and is the Village of Ellicottville’s first inn. Kirsch has done major renovations every year since she purchased it in 2006 and feels she is finally at the point where the restoration is complete. Her focus now is to maintain the property and add to her customer base.
Kirsch decided to decorate the inn with antique furniture in all the rooms with the exception of the efficiencies, which have a country motif. The rooms at the inn include four bedrooms, one two-room suite and two efficiencies. The suite and efficiencies have a TV and fireplace, and all rooms have private baths.
The main building has a large dining room where Kirsch serves a three-course breakfast daily. Kirsch prepares the meal of fruit, homemade baked goods and a full breakfast meal, such as eggs benedict herself. Kirsch also makes homemade jams, applesauce and pickles. The ski package she offers to customers includes lift tickets and a hearty packed lunch “they can graze on all day,” Kirsch said.
The three-course breakfast is not included in the efficiencies, because they have their own kitchenettes. They are used primarily for people with children and pets.
Kirsch said she had to travel a lot when she worked in the banking industry and has an idea of what people want. She provides cookies, water in the rooms and a hot tub on the back porch. She even provides complimentary dog biscuits for customers with pets.
Two sitting rooms in the main building offer customers a chance to socialize. One of the sitting rooms even offers travelers games to play, a television to watch and wireless Internet access. Another added feature is the inn’s proximity to the park.
“During the summer, people love to sit on the porch and listen to the music concerts held at the gazebo,” Kirsch said.
Kirsch doesn’t feel the economy has affected her too much, because she’s found that due to the economy people are staying local.
“People seem to feel it is less expensive than going farther away for ski trips,” she said.
This past winter wasn’t a great ski season because there was so little snow, but Kirsch explained she’s also getting a different crowd.
“Mountain biking in the area has been drawing in a younger crowd,” Kirsch stated. “I get a lot of repeat business and not just skiers. People like to come to this area for other activities like antiquing, hiking, golfing or to go to the casino.”
Repeat customers feel like the inn is a “home away from home,” she said. One group that comes to the Jefferson Inn every New Year’s Eve did a video that they put on YouTube and created a book of memories about the inn that depicts their annual trips. This book now sits on the table in the community sitting room for all to enjoy.
Other groups, like EMTs, also book the whole place for get-togethers, and families rent it for reunions or special events. One local person had a birthday bash in March and several out-of-town guests that were coming to attend the event stayed at the inn.
Kirsch loves managing her business in Ellicottville and said her greatest challenge is simply maintaining it by herself. Kirsch spends her spare time doing all the activities she enjoys.
She said, “I love to ski, snowshoe, mountain bike and hike, and I am able to do all of those activities right here. That’s why Ellicottville is so great.”