You don't have to spend a lot to get a lot for a quick getaway.
By JEFF SCHOCH
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
MERCER, Pa. -- We're still not sure how Jacque McClelland does it, but we're glad she does.
McClelland is the co-proprietor of The Magoffin Inn, a bed-and-breakfast near the square in downtown Mercer.
My wife and I spent an overnight there recently, taking advantage of a special McClelland's been offering since March and is continuing through June 1.
Here's the deal, and it really is an amazing one: For $89.95 on a Sunday, Wednesday or Thursday, a couple gets a night in an 1884 Victorian mansion, a four-course candlelight dinner, and breakfast the next morning. That's one night, two dinners and two breakfasts. The price is $124.95 on a Friday or Saturday.
"Some people think the price is per person, but it really is for two," McClelland said while serving us a great breakfast of fresh fruit, juice, coffee, Amish friendship bread (a real treat fresh from the oven) and quiche.
But how does she make any money, we had wondered the previous night after enjoying a terrific dinner that alone should have cost an easy 50.
So we asked her.
McClelland laughs at the question. Actually, she laughs a lot. Clearly, she likes what she's doing.
"I like having a full house, and I can pretty much have that by keeping the prices down,'' she said.
A full house at The Magoffin means having guests in all five rooms.
McClelland was still cleaning from a full house of departing guests when we arrived (too early) for check-in.
No matter. She stopped her work to welcome us, confirm our reservation, give us a quick first-floor tour and hand us our keys.
"Full again tonight?" I asked.
"We are," she said, pleased, and apparently quite content to have a full day's work ahead of her.
McClelland has been at the inn 17 years. The house is owned by Gene and Gala Slagle of New Springfield, Ohio. McClelland holds a lease on the lodging part of the business, and the food operation is the domain of Barbara Henderson.
McClelland can talk all day about the history of the mansion, which gets its name from Dr. James Magoffin, whose parents moved to America from Ireland in 1821. He settled in Mercer after graduating from medical school, and he operated a private practice there for 50 years.
Two more generations of Magoffins continued the medical practice and the house. In 1961, a Grove City College professor bought the mansion and lived there with his family for 14 years.
McClelland's family bought the house in July 1985, did extension restoration work and by the end of the year, opened it as a bed-and-breakfast. The family sold the house to the Slagles about two years later, but McClelland continued working there.
The Magoffin is a great house, with rich, dark wood, high ceilings and wrap-around front porch. The Victorian decor is ornate but comfortable, and antiques are everywhere. None are Magoffin originals, however, McClelland said.
Each guest room has a working, gas-log fireplace, which makes for a cozy touch on a cool night. Modern features such as private baths, central air and cable TV add to the comfort without detracting from the history of the house.
Meals are served during specified hours. The menu varies, and the portions are just right, allowing enough room for dessert.
Dinner includes an appetizer (stuffed mushroom caps, French onion soup, wedding soup or cranberry shrub), tossed salad, main course and dessert.
The entree choices for us included steak, stuffed chicken breast, stuffed pork chop, broiled or pan-fried white fish or chicken with pasta. Served with it were cheesy potatoes, green beans and a slice of fruit. For dessert we had a small slice of warm blueberry pie with ice cream, washed down with coffee. Among the menu options available other times are stuffed flounder, filet mignon, lobster tails, shrimp scampi and prime rib.
Beverages (coffee, pop, tea) are available to guests throughout the stay, even after the staff goes home. It's self-serve from a small pantry on the first floor.
And yes, it's all included in the price.
How does she do it?
XSchoch is chief copy editor at The Vindicator.