New Albany News

Bed and breakfast

Schwartz opens Main attraction in Johnstown

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Elizabeth Schwartz hopes a large front porch, backyard garden with roses and herbs and antiques-filled interior would entice plenty of people to visit the new Elizabeth on Main in Johnstown.

The 110-year-old Victorian-style home at 52 N. Main St. is the village's only bed and breakfast, according to Mayor Sean Staneart.

"I love old houses," Schwartz said.

Schwartz, a New York native who retains a hint of that accent, said she was living in a condominium in New Albany when she found the house in Johnstown almost three years ago.

"The right house had to come up that I could afford," she said. "I looked in German Village and Victorian Village, but I'm not a city person. I really love the country."

Elizabeth on Main was the right mix: a two-and-a-half-story home with original woodwork and three fireplaces in a village on the outskirts of a big city.

The bed and breakfast is about a 20-minute drive from the Easton Town Center or Granville and about 25 minutes from Polaris Fashion Place or downtown Columbus.

"It's a great location," Schwartz said. "It's close enough to everything with a touch of country in old-town USA."

Her business was good news to Staneart.

"That's the type of business you always want to see in your downtown district," Staneart said.

He said he appreciates the work that Schwartz has put into preserving the historic Johnstown home.

Even though the bed and breakfast is between two other large historic homes, Staneart said, it's not "an intense business."

"I hope it fits in well, and I wish her the best of luck," Staneart said.

About half of Johnstown's neighbors have bed and breakfasts.

Granville has six and Alexandria has one, according to the Granville Chamber of Commerce, and Gahanna has one, according to its chamber of commerce.

Westerville, New Albany and Pataskala do not have a bed and breakfast, according to officials in those cities.

Schwartz said her appreciation for entertaining and gardening inspired her to open the bed and breakfast, but it took awhile for her to find her way into the hospitality business.

Schwartz served in the Army from 1973 to 1975 before attending the University of Wisconsin to earn bachelor's degrees in journalism and home economics.

She said she was married for 30 years, and she and her two sons traveled where her ex-husband's work took them. Along the way, she said, she worked as a freelance writer, a magazine editor and stay-at-home mother before the couple found their way to Ohio in 1996.

After her divorce, she worked as a house mother for Phi Kappa Psi at the Ohio State University and operated the Liberty Antique Mall in Powell while earning her master gardener's certification.

Schwartz said she first opened Elizabeth on Main last fall but was delayed somewhat when both of her parents, Jack and Doris Strahlman, died in the winter within six weeks of each other.

Schwartz said they were buried in Tennessee and she traveled back and forth to help her family take care of their business affairs.

Now that summer is here, with her garden in bloom and her kitchen renovation completed, Schwartz said, she is ready to start booking rooms again.

She has one room available now. It includes an adjacent antique wash room and a sitting room.

The room costs $99 a night and includes breakfast.

Schwartz said because she did not install a commercial kitchen, she operates under a few food restrictions and exemptions, per the Licking County Health Department.

Joe Ebel, director of the Licking County Health Department, said Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3717 allows an owner-occupied business to serve breakfast to a maximum of six people.

Another exemption, established for Amish families who accept tours and serve food, allows an owner-occupied home to provide meals to a maximum of 115 people per week if the owner posts a notice in the eating area to explain the home is not licensed by the health department, Ebel said.

As a result, Schwartz said, she may serve food to guests as long as they are aware that they must eat at their own risk.

A sign to that effect hangs in her kitchen.

She also offers the home for business meetings, teas, lunches and dinners, with prices varying depending on the number of people and courses served.

Schwartz said lunches could cost $20 per person and a five-course dinner for two is $149.

She said she donates some of the funds she earns through Elizabeth on Main to A Hopeful Heart, a Christian organization through the Vineyard Columbus that helps financially and emotionally challenged women.

For more information on Elizabeth on Main, visit elizabethonmain.com.

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