Nov. 4 marked two years since Jay and Denise Hartz reopened the Hotel Pattee, and by all accounts they have brought the business back to life and made it the hub of much downtown trade.
“We’re very happy with the way things are going now,” said Denise Hartz. “It’s been a lot of hard work for Jay and I, but we’ve been lucky in hiring some really great people. We’re even at a point where we can take an evening off now and then, go to dinner or something, and know the place is in good hands. At first we were almost scared to leave, but now things are rolling along just fine.”
The Hartzes took possession of the gorgeously restored and lavishly decorated Arts and Crafts landmark in late September 2013, gave it a thorough cleaning and had the doors open in time to host the fourth annual Art on the Prairie in early November.
Jay Hartz recounted their virtual fairytale story last Saturday for a group of business school students led by Mitch Lindquist, business instructor at DMACC Urban. Lindquist led the group of about 50 members of the Phi Beta Lamba (PBL) business fraternity to the Hotel Perry for a leadership luncheon and workshop as part of the PBL fall conference.
“Every fall PBL has a leadership conference, and this year Des Moines is the host city,” Lindquist said. “The organizers like to arrange a few trips for students to local businesses. The objective is to learn at first hand what it takes to successfully operate a business, to observe it in operation and to ask questions.”
Most of the PBL students were from colleges and universities in Iowa: the DMACC campuses in Ankeny, Boone and Des Moines, Ashford University in Clinton, Grand View University in Des Moines and Upper Iowa University in Fayette. A contingent of business students from Dakota State University in Madison, S.D., also made the trip to Perry.
Hartz gave a 30-minute talk and then fielded questions from the business students, who were eager to learn the formula for small-business success from a leader in the field. Before launching into his prepared remarks, he gave the young people a nutshell version of his two years running the hotel, including a description of the creative financing that brought the 100-year-old Perry landmark into his family’s hands.
“The whole story is a wonderful reflection on Perry and the value that people here put on community,” Hartz said later. “We could not have done this without major local support. Perry stepped up. That’s how much people care — not just about the Hotel Pattee but about Perry as a place to live and grow.”