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  • C Johnston

Steve & Lisa Freysz: Born for Hospitality

Is it any wonder that a couple described as “friendly,” “warm,” “attentive” and “gracious” are in the hospitality industry? Steve and Lisa Freysz feel that they have been preparing their whole lives for the place and the business they’re in right now. For almost four years, they’ve been the owners of Spencer House Bed & Breakfast in Erie, PA. And the fit is as perfect as the moon in the sky.

It was certainly a winding road that brought them to where they are now. Steve and Lisa say that God had a plan, it just took them a while to realize it.

Their history goes back to their teenage years in Lancaster, PA, when they were “first loves.” They met at their church and had a special relationship. But time and circumstances took them separate ways, and each ended up marrying someone else. Both of their marriages failed and ended in divorce.

Eventually, Steve and Lisa met up again in church and renewed their friendship. A romance soon blossomed, and this time, they welcomed the fact that they were meant to be together.

They also realized they had a deep desire and gifts needed to run a B&B.

When Steve participated in firefighter training in Williamsport, PA in 1992, he stayed at a B&B. He felt at home in the comfortable, friendly atmosphere and recognized that the hosts’ excellent upkeep and attention to detail were crucial factors in the success of the operation. He was working in building and grounds maintenance, where he was learning a lot about facilities care. Later, he worked in trucking safety, where he honed his skills in business, precision and problem solving. As his thoughts about running a B&B were just beginning, his training was well underway.

In the meantime, Lisa, in her own sphere, also dreamed of owning a B&B. She was working in the restaurant industry and eventually became the full-time kitchen manager for a day care center and church. She learned to handle the day-to-day routine of cooking for groups and the challenge of managing larger banquets for up to 300 people. She loved planning, cooking and serving. Even the clean-up wasn’t bad. She, likewise, was being prepared for the B&B business as she lived her daily life.

“It helped that I grew up as part of a big family,” she explains. “We took care of each other. The Lord showed me from the time I was young that it’s important to think about the needs of others and how we can help them.”

When Steve and Lisa got married in 2004, their dream of owning a B&B began taking shape.

Steve shares, “It was wonderful to share that same passion. We started visiting B&Bs when we could. We enjoyed those times, but it was also research, helping us to know what we liked and didn’t like.”

They prayed about their mutual desire, and decided that when their sons graduated from school, they would start looking for a B&B of their own.

After their youngest son graduated in 2017, they searched the market in the southcentral PA area where they lived to find an establishment that was the right price and size for them. Nothing fit the bill.

“So we broadened our search to where the Lord might want us to go, and the Spencer House in Erie came up in 2018,” Steve explains. The owners weren’t home when they happened to be travelling nearby, but Steve and Lisa secured permission to walk around the outside, and their interest was piqued. They returned and toured the Spencer House not too long afterwards.

Steve remembers, “It didn’t check all our boxes, especially because it was five hours from our family and friends. But God’s plan became more evident as we walked through the home. We saw rich, wooden carvings of scripture in the library and dining room. We felt a warmth and way to share God’s light and love through hospitality that we knew was special and important. We needed to see if that calling was for real.”

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

- Mathew 5:16

Matthew 5:16 was carved in the mantle of the library, and prompted Steve and Lisa to name their corporation “Shining Light Hospitality.”

But first they knew God had to make things happen because they couldn’t do it on their own.

Finances were a stumbling block. They didn’t have enough cash but moved forward anyway. A financial advisor recommended they put other investments, including some retirement assets, into a corporation. They followed the recommendations, and also put their home in Lancaster on the market.

Part of the process included having the Spencer House inspected, but they had no contacts to work with in the Erie area. Steve says, “We were praying for an assurance that we were doing the right thing. I blindly found a company advertised as HIM, for Home Inspection Management, and felt that it was referencing the Lord. Sure enough, the company was owned by a part-time pastor who guided us through uncharted waters. This was another way we saw God’s hand.”

Near the end of August, the Freysz’ house sold, but the process of purchasing the Spencer House was lagging behind. They packed up their belongings into a U-Haul and drove to their cabin in Tioga County, PA. Within days, they were surprised to get a call from a bank representative telling them that the B&B would be theirs by the end of the week.

So on Friday, August 31, Steve and Lisa were at the front door of the Spencer House, welcoming guests for the three-day holiday weekend. The previous innkeepers stayed with them briefly to show them the ropes, but as it turned out the couple didn’t need much help. They had been well prepared for the time when they would be the owners of the Spencer House.

“From the time my wife and I arrived to the time we left we felt welcome and were well cared for.”

- Spencer House Guest

Steve and Lisa received another affirmation that this move was the right one. That first holiday weekend, they made almost enough profit to cover the first month’s mortgage.

As Lisa says, “It’s hard work, but we love caring for our guests. We enjoy meeting new people – some we see and talk with more than others, depending on what they want. But we give them peace and a place to rest on their vacation.”

“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

- 1 Peter 4:9

Lisa and Steve experience their share of challenges, the biggest to date being the impact of COVID in 2020. Throughout it all, they have rested in the security that a greater power is in control.

They remain true to their mission and their calling to care for their guests. They say that they’ve been blessed by stepping out in faith. And many of their guests say they’ve been blessed by discovering the kindness and love shown by the owners of the Spencer House.

“Owners Steve and Lisa are excellent hosts … friendly ... considerate … and went out of their way to make our stay wonderful! We will be back!”

- Spencer House Guest


Feel Free to Contact Lisa and Steve at the Spencer House Bed & Breakfast

519 West 6th Street, Erie, PA 16507

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