Now in its fourth year of operation, the Inn at 425 remains a labor of love.
The evidence is readily apparent every night during the holidays, when the exterior Christmas display at the Historic Northeast bed and breakfast shines like a beacon throughout the neighborhood. The interior display of the Inn at 425 is no less impressive – co-owner Stephen Zweifler estimates that there are as many as 2,000 to 3,000 holiday decorations in the house at any one time.
“I was in display for 37 years before I retired. It explains why there’s so much of it,” Zweifler said. “All the trees, the greenery, the wreaths – anything that’s artificial green – there’s an entire room down in the basement just for that stuff.”
“Then the glass ornaments and all of that,” he added. “Half the attic space is given over towards storing those. A lot of it has sentimental value.”
Each year, Zweifler and his co-owner husband Carl Markus take two to three days to put together a unique holiday display – because they have so many pieces, no two years are the same. After 22 years in the house, and going on four years since opening the bed and breakfast, Zweifler says that the pair are still loving the experience.
“The real honest-to-gosh reason that we wanted to start a bed and breakfast in this neighborhood is that we had lived here for 27 years,” Zweifler added. “We wanted to prove to everyone who doesn’t live in this neighborhood that this is a viable place to live and shop and work.”
“We’ll do it until we don’t want to do it anymore,” he added. “That’s what makes the Inn a success, I think. We’re doing it because we enjoy doing it and we like people.”
Weekends during the holidays are an especially busy time, and there are few vacancies. Zweifler says that some people will even come during the middle of the week during the busiest seasons. According to Zweifler – the de facto spokesperson for the Inn at 425 – roughly 80% of the bed and breakfast’s guests come from a 75-100 mile radius of Kansas City. The remaining 20% of guests come from all over the world, thanks in part to the Inn’s high marks on various travel web sites.
In fact, we even have people come from Canada and Europe who are repeat customers,” Zweifler said. “We’re advertised on TripAdvisor, and we’re also advertised on bedandbreakfast.com and Yelp. So they just go to the web sites and search which ones they like the best.”
For Kansas City bed and breakfast’s, Inn at 425 routinely ranks near the top of those lists. Zweifler said that he and Markus are close with the proprietors of the Jefferson House on the city’s west side, and that the two often trade flip-flop as the top bed and breakfast in the city. That constant competition in the bed and breakfast hierarchy has led to some friendly banter between the two establishments.
“We’re good friends with the owners, so we’ll look at each other’s profiles and text them; ‘I’m number one today – you better make something good for breakfast so that you can be number one tomorrow,’” Zweifler said.
Renovations at Inn at 425 have been ongoing since 1974 – it was broken up into 12 apartment units – though Zweifler and Markus have owned the home for the past 23 years. Their most recent project was the renovation of the carriage house behind the main home, which has allowed the couple to expand their business by providing private quarters for those seeking a more intimate experience. In total, the Inn at 425 can sleep up to 10 people between the main house and carriage house.
Zweifler and Markus pride themselves on running a full-service operation that takes care of as many amenities as possible – in addition to homemade breakfast, Inn at 425 runs a small gift shop that sells custom coffee mugs (from Rebecca Koop’s Back Door Pottery!), Christmas ornaments, the soaps and shampoos from the bed and breakfast’s bathrooms, and more.
“It’s not an Airbnb, where the owner is not present and you have to fend for yourself for breakfast or any other amenity,” Zweifler said.
To learn more about the Inn at 425, or to look into booking a room, visit www.innat425.com. Another opportunity for the public to check out the premises is at the Annual Art in the Garden event, held each summer in the Inn at 425 garden. The event is put on by Northeast Arts KC.
“We’ve already had three, and we had a great reception for that. We’d like to make it larger and have more artists,” Zweifler said. “It brings people to the Inn, and we don’t charge the artists and money to use the space, and we don’t take any part of the proceeds if they sell something. It’s just kind of a goodwill thing.”