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Despite Pandemic Setback, Couple Finds Success in Lancaster Motel

Published Friday Mar 8, 2024

Author Kevin G. Andrade

Despite Pandemic Setback, Couple Finds Success in Lancaster Motel

Brian and Ruby Berryman bought the Lancaster Motel in Coos County in June 2019, shortly before Brian, a former airline pilot, turned 65, the retirement age mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration.

They were looking forward to a relaxing new chapter in their life. Then COVID-19 hit. “It made things very difficult when you consider that a few months after we purchased a brand new business in hospitality, we were forced to close it,” says Brian. “We started as typical new business owners and jumped into that fairly aggressively only to hit this downturn.”

Luckily for the Berrymans, who moved to the area from San Diego in 2004, their friends came through, helping renovate the site’s 20 rental rooms, 10 extended-stay suites and banquet space.

It helped that the site is critical to Lancaster, a town of slightly more than 3,000 people. “It’s central to the town,” says Ruby Berryman, a playwright. “Having a network in the community helped.”

Ruby adds that her high level of involvement in the community and the fact that they had school-age children when they first moved to the area aided the business’s success. “I’m not saying that there’s no issue,” when it comes to intergration, Brian adds. “But we didn’t allow the possibility, the suspicion of discomfort, to influence our operation.”

Living in a tight-knit community has made calling for help from locals easier as well. “In Boston, you wouldn’t call the police department if you locked your keys in the car,” Ruby says, “but they help with that here in Lancaster. I imagine people of color don’t feel they can do that in many places.” 

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