Franklin Inn owner eagerly awaits business after pandemic


During the five decades that the Lerash family have owned the Franklin Inn, they have faced adversity.

The hotel on Huron Avenue in Bad Ax was destroyed by fire in January 1999. Frank Lerash, who initially bought the business in 1969, made the decision to rebuild and continue working with his son, Pat, in the family business until Frank’s death. in 2006.

Pat had no idea he would face a challenge that threatened the future of his business. Like almost every other business in Michigan, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll, but it has been particularly painful for the Franklin Inn.

The spring 2020 closure closed the restaurant and buffet side of the business and saw a drop in demand for banquet facilities, and the motel’s occupancy rate fluctuated wildly at times. They regained ground with curbside service, but the initial shutdown and the November shutdown took their toll.

But the Franklin Inn weathered the storm, and as the pandemic comes and goes, Pat, his son Alex, manager Leann Pineau and his staff have worked hard to get back to where they were at the start of 2020.

Attracting customers hasn’t been a problem, Pat said, but finding new employees has been. Like just about any other service-oriented business owner, he’s struggled to hire and retain new staff.

“It’s bad,” Pat said. “You hire them and tell them to come on Monday, and they don’t show up. “

He relied on longtime employees like Pineau, who has worked at the Franklin Inn for 25 years, to keep things running. He said he couldn’t have done it without her.

“She’s the best ever,” Lerash said.

Pat worked long after many retired. Among other things, he still cuts his own meat, a skill he learned working in his father’s market after he started making hot dogs in the sausage kitchen. He came to work full time for the hostel in the late 1960s after a health problem exempted him from military service. The roots of the Lerash family businesses run deep in Huron County, with Pat’s grandfather and uncle both owning a hotel and bar in Kinde.

The Franklin Inn became what it is today thanks to the hard work of Pat and his late wife, Holly, who not only helped guide the course of the business, but were also the driving force behind the contributions. from the Lerash family to the community when needed.

“She had a big heart,” he said.

The Franklin Inn has 47 guest rooms, a restaurant, lounge and banquet facilities and is located at 1070 E Huron Ave, Bad Ax. For more information, call 989-269-9951.

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