BRONZEVILLE — Chicago’s top-rated bed and breakfast is selling its historic mansion home and leaving Bronzeville because it’s too hard to persuade people to stay in the neighborhood.
“I’m not happy about the situation, but I have to do what I have to do,” Monroe said.
Monroe and his wife have lived in the brownstone seven-bedroom mansion for 15 years, and five years ago they converted it to a bed and breakfast.
Monroe said he’s built the business up to serve about 250 guests a year. But, he said, for every three guests he books, one cancels. He said he rarely gets an explanation for the cancellation, but suspects people are lured in by the proximity to Downtown and McCormick Place and then cancel when they realize the bed and breakfast is in a largely black neighborhood with a bad reputation.
For the business, it’s meant a loss of almost $150,000 in revenue a year, but Monroe said he can’t really blame people for canceling.
“They’re not going to walk to my place from the Green Line at night, and then on the other side, I don’t know if I want them to. It hasn’t changed in 15 years,” Monroe said.
He said he expected the neighborhood would improve more than it has in the last 15 years, and it’s time to cut his losses.
“The only monumental thing we’ve had here is maybe Mariano’s in the last 15 years,” Monroe said.
He said he is going to look for a new home to convert into a bed and breakfast closer to McCormick Place where he won’t have the added cost of paying for a van to shuttle guests around at night.
Monroe said he will sell the business to a buyer who wants the bed and breakfast license and the mansion, but he said his clients aren’t tourists interested in Bronzeville’s history, but people looking for another lodging option close to convention centers and Downtown.
The mansion could easily become a single-family home again.
The third floor has a kitchenette that could make it ideal for a multigenerational family and also has a separate apartment in the basement that can be rented out for extra income.
The Welcome Inn Manor is Chicago's top-rated bed and breakfast but has struggled to attract guests. [Provided photos/VHT Studios]
Mell Monroe and his wife have lived in the house for the last 15 years and five years ago converted it into a bed and breakfast.
Monroe said the only major change in Bronzeville in the last five years has been a new grocery store opening.