Lesli and Mike Mautz were walking home from a movie at the Drexel on a winter night in 2012 when they made a life-changing decision. Mike, says Lesli, had been telling her for what seemed like forever that someone should open a bed and breakfast in Bexley. On this night, he said it again. “It was December 20,” says Mautz. “I turned to him and said, ‘Okay, let’s do it.’”
Mautz was preparing to retire from her job of 34 years as an administrative law judge at the Ohio Department of Family and Children’s Services. While Mike was continuing his work as a CPA for the Rhode Island-based CVS, working remotely, Lesli was looking for a new project. “The bed and breakfast was Mike’s idea,” she says, “but it became my vocation.”
Five months later, the Mautz’s sold their home on Dawson Road and closed on a small brick apartment building on South Drexel Ave. Two years, one gut rehab, nine months without a kitchen and five new bathrooms later, the Bexley Bed + Breakfast opened for business with five guest rooms. The Mautzes live on the second and third floors. It’s the only hotel in Bexley.
Right off the bat, the Mautzes made a promise: to give five percent of their gross earnings to charity. Every year, the couple has a “philanthropy day” when they allocate their giving. They support a wide range of international and local causes, says Mike, but always include the Bexley Education Foundation. They were among the first donors to help establish the Bob Darwin Endowment Fund, and each year they support the Annual Fund for Excellence and contribute a stay at the Bexley Bed + Breakfast for the BRAVO! silent auction.
The Mautzes moved to Bexley in 1999 for the schools. While their older daughter Allison attended Columbus Academy, Bexley High School was the perfect place for their younger child, Amy, class of 2010. She played goalie on the girls’ 2009 state champion soccer team, and through such projects as a school trip to the marine biology center in Andros Island, says Lesli, “Bexley helped her find her passion in science.” Amy went on to major in environmental studies at Eckerd College and works as an environmental scientist for San Francisco’s Presidio Trust.
Now, the Mautzes have another point of connection with the BEF: their bed and breakfast often hosts visiting scientists, scholars and authors who come to town to participate in programs sponsored by the BEF. R.L. Stine has stayed with them, as did renowned ornithologist Stephen Kress, a BEF Judah Folkman Scientist-in-Residence, and two recent visiting Holocaust Scholars. The array of guests makes for fascinating conversations over breakfast, said Lesli.
From excellent schools to the continuous flow of interesting people who pass through Bexley, not only for BEF events but also for programs sponsored by the JCC, Capital University and other institutions, the Mautzes feel grateful for the community that sustains their small hotel. They enjoy making “giving back” a part of their business.
“It’s rewarding,” says Mike. “We were not able to do as much when we were raising our children and sending them to college. The time is now right.”