It was a celebration to show anything’s possible in America.
The Best Western Luxbury Inn, 5501 Coventry Lane in Fort Wayne, has new owners, and they held a special party March 22 with friends and local media.
The story of how Fort Wayne native Joe Townsend and his business partner, Charlie Chen, have found success is inspirational.
When Chen came to America from China more than 20 years ago, he didn’t speak any English, but managed to find a job as a dishwasher at Japanese restaurant Takaoka in downtown Fort Wayne. As he worked his way up, he became a hibachi chef, forcing him to interact with customers, and therefore learning the English language. Today, he owns several commercial real estate properties, including two restaurants. As of March 10, he’ll add the Best Western Luxbury Inn to his holdings.
Townsend has worked at the Best Western off and on since 2004, serving as night auditor, sales manager, and currently the operations manager. In 2019, he was working full time for Rent-A-Center in New Haven and helping out the Luxbury’s current owners, Dev and Meera Piprottar, taking his part-time wages and investing them in cryptocurrency and the stock market. When the opportunity recently came up to buy the hotel, he moved his investments into the hospitality industry.
“I’ve worked there for so long,” Townsend said. “I’ve gotten to know the hotel and understand the needs of its customers.”
Buying the hotel has been his dream for a long time, although he wasn’t expecting to take ownership quite this soon.
“My five-year plan became a one-year plan,” he said.
His vision for the future of the Best Western Luxbury Inn is to continue to grow the leisure travel industry in Fort Wayne. They are working with Greater Fort Wayne Inc., Visit Fort Wayne, and the Plex indoor sports arena to draw more tourism to the area.
He said southwest Fort Wayne already has a vibrant corporate travel industry, given General Motors, Vera Bradley, Sweetwater, and Lutheran Hospital being located nearby, but more could be done to bring leisure travel to the area, such as more hotels offering full buffet breakfasts and other amenities that corporate travelers may not need.
“Leisure travel is just now starting to come back after COVID-19,” Townsend said. “Corporate travel recovered a while ago.”
Townsend will act as the new general manager, while Chen serves as a voting member, continuing to focus on his restaurants.
Best Western is a nonprofit organization with each hotelier (franchisee) having voting privileges to determine the direction and make policy decisions.
The Best Western Luxbury Inn is a smoke-free hotel. Guests can enjoy complimentary breakfasts, a seasonal outdoor pool and a state-of-the-art fitness center. All public spaces are ADA accessible. Pets are allowed, based on the availability of pet-friendly rooms; limitations apply.
Cover photo by Emery McClendon