Originally opened in the 1950s, Charlie’s Motel has been a consistent presence on Main Street for nearly 70 years. The motel, at 220 West Main Street, was purchased by Garrett County native John Steele about 35 years ago, and his experience and dedication to customer service has made the business thrive.
Of course, local residents may not have stayed in the motel, but regularly visit for a different reason. Though the motel always had its own bar, John added the Hurry Back Tavern twenty-two years ago in an effort to remove the previous bar from the second story and to open the space to more community members.
The Hurry Back Tavern is an open space with a central bar and plenty of tables to respect social distancing measures. The bar is open at 6 pm, seven days a week and offers a selection of fried appetizers and nightly drink specials such as $0.75 Draft Night on Mondays. The bar’s biggest claim to fame is Thursday Taco Night. John says of the bar, “this October every night is a Halloween party because we are always masked!”
The second floor, where the previous bar once stood, is now rentable office space. “With our large parking lot, and the bar not opening until after business hours,” John explains, “it seems a good place for anyone looking for a Main Street office location.”
The motel itself has 10 rooms that have all been updated with flat screen televisions, mini-fridges, microwaves, air-conditioning, and free wi-fi. Many have the rooms have been remodeled to update carpeting, plumbing, electrical, and bathroom fixtures. John maintains the rooms himself. “I’m the owner, maintenance engineer, you name it, whatever has to be done.”
Throughout the year, including this year, Charlie’s is filled at a 75% occupancy rate or higher. Weekly rates, coupled with the laundromat across the street and Sand Springs up the street, make it appealing for construction teams and contract employees staying in the area for extended periods. The motel also houses touring musicians, GAP trail visitors, and Red Ridge Auto sends over those whose cars break down and need a place to stay. John even offers a shuttle service to Charlie’s to those who have been walking or biking the trail and don’t want to attempt the hill up Main Street. John states of his success: “Treating people right, that’s always helped.”
“After you’ve been in business a while you get to know other people who are in business,” John explains describing the interconnectedness of people in Frostburg and how every business can trade information to help one another. Charlie’s and the Hurry Back have been very involved in the local community; sponsoring cars for Derby Day, the fishing rodeo, a team in the pool leagues, and little league and soccer teams. John himself owns a few other apartment rentals and is on the special appeals zoning board for the City.
The motel and bar were officially listed for sale in April 2019. John has made sure that the transition to a new owner will be as smooth as possible. “In a business, there are always going to be things that a new owner wants to update and to change; but I’ve made it so they don’t have to come in and go ‘well we need to change the TVs or change this.’ I’ve got it to where if someone comes in they can just put their footprint on it, but know it’s updated.”
Click here to visit their website: https://charliesmotelusa.com
Click here to learn more about the motel and tavern’s green initiative: https://web.archive.org/web/20180822085830/http://charliesmotelusa.com/pdfs/Super%20Efficent%20LED%20lightbulbs.pdf
Dana Bridges, FrostburgFirst Marketing & Communications Coordinator