The spirit of Jeff Shilts lives on and is still the heart of the Hotel de Ville. He and I were offered the property by its former owner, a neighbor of ours in Minneapolis, who had run an ice cream shop in the building since 1981 and until about one year before we bought it in 2005. Jeff liked the idea of running his own coffee shop and I saw the birds flying through two of the hotel buildings and knew that I could save them. We made the move to reopen the ice cream shop and added coffee to make Jeff happy. I often said, "If Jeff isn't having fun, this isn't working." as I grit my teeth watching him have fun. We spent five years renovating the two properties and added five other ones to them during that time. Jeff ran the hotel and Fire and Ice by himself pretty much, while I pounded nails and ran wiring. We worked together on every detail and I did nothing without his seal of approval. We decorated the Suites to within an inch of their tasteful lives with what we had at hand, our motto in that regard being, "It isn't done til it's overdone". I would get the rooms roughed out with major pieces of furniture and Jeff would move in to complete the transformation in the details. The collaboration was seamless, actually, either one of us could make some change which would usually be embraced by the other. Jeff had final vote in any decision. We moved as one for almost 17 years. I could never have spent enough time with him. It drove him crazy, he said. There were no problems when I was with him, aside from the time or two, maybe three or four, that I was actually yelling at him about something. Overall I was always so very proud of him in everything he did.
On April 13th of 2011, Jeff died peacefully and after having almost 3 weeks of goodbyes from many friends after having had a heart attack in the prior September and strokes in the spring. The hotel will never be quite the same. There truly is a bit of Jeff in every detail of the operation that will carry the day, I am sure, but his pride in what he had accomplished here was part of the experience. All that is left is this bit of magic we created and call the Hotel de Ville.
I do believe that we do run the best hotel in the area and we will aspire keep up with Jeff's little touches. So often I heard guests comment on the great DVD selection in the rooms. I knew that it was no accident. Jeff had guessed what would be of interest to a given guest he'd gotten to know and placed an appropriate selection out. He loved his "lotions and potions" and we still set out quality soaps and linens for your use. His love of the planting most anything is evident yet in the ever changing yet always delightful garden. I have yet to memorialize him in some way. That is coming in due time and I will surely add a picture here.
There simply is not, a more convenient spot, for happily ever aftering than here at the Hotel de Ville. It is truly magic place in time. Please don't miss it. It is a unique little place on earth that you will not forget any more than I will ever forget the heart and the soul of the Hotel de Ville, Jeffrey Shilts. Daniel Kordiak, holding the fort for Jeffrey Shilts