50 Years of Staffords Hospitality : New book takes a look back at the Staffords story
By Rick Coates
If a picture tells a thousand words, could a name do the same? Just mention Staffords Hospitality and for hundreds of thousands of visitors and residents of the region, wonderful stories and memories come to mind. This year Staffords Hospitality, with operations in Petoskey, Charlevoix and Harbor Springs, is celebrating 50 years of business.
In many ways, Staffords and Hospitality is somewhat redundant -- the two are synonymous with each other. Few if any have done the hospitality business better than Staffords. That tradition started with their founders and today, the second generation has been handed the torch with new ideas, while hanging onto the core values that have led to success over the past 50 years.
The company was founded in 1961 by Stafford Duff Smith and his wife Janice. The two met while working at the Bay View Inn in Petoskey, where Stafford was the assistant manager (he had been working there since 1957) and Janice had just started as the dining room hostess in the summer of 1960. Later that year, Stafford would be hired as the manager of the Perry Hotel. A few months later, in early spring of 1961, the Perry Hotel was sold and Stafford lost his position.
But in early summer 1961, Stafford was offered the opportunity to purchase the Bay View Inn on a land contract and did so. The couple were married soon afterwards. At the age of 22, Stafford and Janice Smith owned a 60-room inn and were probably the youngest innkeepers in the Midwest.