Carl Kosko, owner of The Inn & Spa at Intercourse Village, had decades of experience in the hospitality industry before purchasing a 12-room inn in the heart of one of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania’s distinguished travel destinations. Here’s how his passion for the business and for his community of Intercourse are leading to a revitalization of this historic inn, with help from an SBA 504 loan through Pursuit.
A love of innkeeping leads to a lifetime of experience
Carl’s hospitality-industry journey began when he worked in a New England inn following culinary school. At the time, he believed working as a chef was his calling, but soon he realized that it was the entirety of the hospitality industry – and life as an innkeeper – that truly intrigued him. Following his newfound passion, Carl worked his way up to be the manager.
Years later, Carl purchased a four-room inn in Pennsylvania that he operated for 20 years. “That inn was a great way to get to know the innkeeping industry from an owner’s perspective,” Carl says. “It also gave me confidence that I could find and leverage opportunities and address challenges successfully and when the time came to take on something new, I was ready.”
A legacy inn gets a new owner and new life
Carl worked with commercial realtor Connie Burke, who presented the Inn & Spa at Intercourse Village as the right property to achieve his business goals. For the purchase, which included the commercial property and business acquisition, Carl’s business consultant, Howard Leiberman, suggested that Carl explore the SBA 504 loan program, in partnership with Pursuit and a local lender, Bank of Bird-in-Hand.
“I had some apprehension about using the SBA 504 program because it has a reputation as being complex, but when I learned more, the benefits were undeniable,” Carl says. “Working in partnership with Pursuit and a local bank made the process much easier, too. Looking back, it’s the best decision I’ve made.”
He continues, “There’s a real confidence boost you get when your project gets approved, especially when it’s a big leap forward. After putting in decades of work as an innkeeper, it was great to get validation from the SBA and my lenders that I truly am on the right track.” Carl took over ownership of the property in 2021.
Vision and passion, a great team and the right financing lead to success
Carl says it’s having a team-based approach that’s a key difference between running a four-room inn and a 12-room establishment and he values having great people around him, which includes about eight people, with two innkeepers, a chef, and property staff. “I was so fortunate that longtime staff wanted to stay on,” he says. “They bring a wealth of experience and community connections and I’m grateful to have a talented and loyal team.”
“For a while, I was responsible for overall management as well as food service, but I realized that I needed to spend more time building the business,” Carl explains, so he recently hired a new head chef, saying, “From a culinary perspective, our vision for what the Inn could be is aligned, which means so much to me as someone whose first love is cooking.” Carl says that the Inn’s breakfasts, which are reserved for guests staying at the Inn, get rave reviews.
He’s always looking for ways to increase the Inn’s business, too, including during the slower winter months. For example, the Inn began offering monthly “Murder Mystery” weekends that run from late fall through early spring – and they’ve been sold out each weekend. “For innkeepers, a focus on occupancy rates is essential,” Carl explains.
Pursuit helps small business owners achieve their dreams
Carl says, “I’m here, living my dream, thanks to my realtor’s understanding of my goals, my business consultant’s spot-on insight and experience and the financing and support that I’ve received from the SBA 504 program, Pursuit, and my bank. I couldn’t have gotten something this good – not the loan, not the Inn – without them.”