LACE AND GRACE BED AND BREAKFAST CLOSES DOORS
Taylor University Fort Wayne was not the only business shut down by the college board’s decision in October. The Lace and Grace Bed and Breakfast has also closed its doors as a direct result of the decision.
“As soon as they announced that the college was closing, it effectively closed us down,” says proprietor Denise Amstutz, who has owned and operated Lace and Grace for six years.
Denise and her husband Jerry estimate that about two-thirds of their guests were associated with TUFW. Guests included TUFW chapel speakers, parents, and the occasional chef brought in for TUFW events. Authors visiting the professional writing program usually stayed at Lace and Grace. Dr. Steve Smith, a criminal justice professor, lived at Lace and Grace during the week.
Lace and Grace had three guest rooms, and the Amstutzes sometimes gave up their own bedroom for more guests.
Denise says that most people heard about their business through TUFW. Lace and Grace appeared in the pamphlet given to TUFW parents that advertised different places to stay near the college.
After the board’s decision to close TUFW, however, the guest rate plummeted.
“It just died,” Denise says of her business. “It’s too expensive to keep it open with no income.”
The Amstutzes decided to wait to determine the final fate of their business until the end of 2008. They began cutting expenses, such as their home phone and newspaper, and the website of the bed and breakfast.
Denise recalls praying every day that if God wanted the business to stay open, Lace and Grace would get one call every day. But none came.
So, on December 31, 2008, the Lace and Grace officially closed its doors. According to Jerry, it made more sense to close it at the end of the year, for tax purposes.
The Amstutzes are very disappointed in Taylor’s decision to close the Fort Wayne campus, but not just because it effectively shut down their business.
“This is the first time in history that the college has let us down,” says Denise.
The Amstutzes, according to Denise, were very involved in TUFW and always supported the school during issues with the community. When Ramseyer was built and a dispute arose over the location of the parking lot, the Amstutz’s took TUFW’s side and convinced their neighbors that the parking lot lights would not bother them.
Now, however, the Amstutz’s are disappointed with Taylor’s decision. They, along with the rest of the community, wonder what the empty buildings will be used for when TUFW officially closes.
“We’re really concerned as a neighborhood,” says Denise, vocalizing concerns over the potential decrease in their property values if the buildings are left empty and are vandalized.
Jerry, who works in the athletic department of South Side High School, has already offered to maintain TUFW’s soccer field if his teams can be allowed to use it. Taylor Upland told him it was “too early in the process to make a commitment.”
Denise and Jerry are also concerned about the effect the school closing will have on the ministries of Fort Wayne. They say that Fort Wayne doesn’t have enough ministry programs as it is, and that the school closing has “effectively shut down ministries.” Some of these ministries include the mentoring program organized by the criminal justice department of TUFW and other outreach programs manned by TUFW students.
The Amstutz’s also have expressed concern about the image that non-Christians have received from Taylor’s business-driven decision. One of Jerry’s non-Christian colleagues, the administrator at South Side High School, has asked why a Christian school would do something like this to its professors and students. The administrator has also wondered, “What happened to acting like Jesus?”
The Amstutz’s have now placed Lace and Grace on the market and are looking to move into a ranch house somewhere nearby. Denise, whose sole job was to keep Lace and Grace up and running, will not look for a new job yet. For the Amstutz’s, everything is “up in the air” right now.
Denise loved owning Lace and Grace. Meeting people was the best part of it, she says. Lace and Grace was her ministry.
Lace and Grace was “a safe, peaceful place that was clean and quiet for parents to stay and be comfortable.” Denise recalls that parents felt free to come back to the bed and breakfast for a good cry after dropping their kids off for the first time. Lace and Grace was in a handy location, too, within walking distance of TUFW.
Having lost the business, and as they face major changes in their future, the Amstutz’s still hold on to the fact that God is in control. Still, however, they wish that TUFW was not closing.
Says Denise, “God loves us all, even when we make decisions for the wrong reason.”
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