come gather 7

Historic Browning Home Takes on New 
Life as Bed-and-Breakfast

The Browning home has always been a gathering place. Built in 1889 by the owner of the Lee’s Summit mercantile, Browning Drygoods, it was a hub for family life, even after the grown Browning children grew up and moved to homes next door. History has it that neither of the adjoining Browning residences had kitchens because everyone returned to the home at 202 SW Third Street for family meals.

The Browning home recently took on new life as a gathering place, opening as Downtown Lee’s Summit’s first bed-and-breakfast in December 2016. Liesl and Harlen Hays purchased the creamy yellow two-story colonial in October 2016, envisioning it as a retreat where couples and groups could come to relax, free from the concerns and clutter of everyday life. And of course, have a great meal to start the day.

Liesl Hays attributes the speedy two-month turnaround between purchasing the home and opening it to the investment previous owners had made in the property prior to sale. The Hays cleaned, painted and decorated the home in a soothing palette of grays, blues and white. Liesl worked closely with downtown merchants Very Violet and Cameron’s Home Furnishings to furnish the home with both new and refurbished pieces as well as seasonal accents and décor.

“They really helped us create a farmhouse chic look in the style of Chip and Joanna Gaines,” Hays says. “To attract a younger generation, we really wanted it to feel clean and fresh. Extending the B&B market to younger couples just wanting a staycation or a getaway is really important to me.”

The Browning Bed and Breakfast offers close proximity to Downtown Lee’s Summit restaurants and shops as well as the Amtrak station. Guests can choose from two queen bed guest rooms with adjoining bathrooms or a room with a king bed with en suite bathroom. Guest rooms include a snack basket, bottled water, beverages and toiletries including locally-made soaps and lotions.

Before a stay, Hays or the B&B’s on-site manager, Lisa Sweeten, reach out to guests, allowing them to pre-select their breakfast menu options. The spring menu features a variety of pastries freshly baked by Hays including homemade lemon muffins topped with toasted coconut flakes and a warm vanilla glaze as well as a strawberry crumb coffee cake. A blueberry almond parfait includes homemade blueberry almond granola with layers of vanilla yogurt and fresh blueberries. A scramble of farm-fresh eggs with ham and cheese rounds out the breakfast menu and ensures guests won’t be hungry for hours.

Hays says finding out what is unique to each guest or if they’re celebrating a particular event helps her create a memorable experience for each person. When she found out one guest was celebrating her 60th birthday with a visit to the B&B, Hays made dinner reservations at Third Street Social, post-dinner reservations at The W and purchased flowers for the occasion.

“I think really customizing our guest’s experience is what helps set us apart,” Hays says. “That’s what I love about my job. I get to be with people when they’re happy.”