City Bonfires Charms Guests at Bed & Breakfast in Philadelphia

Urban Fire & Personal S’Mores Kit

This week, we sat down with Eric and Jill Pfaff-Moody, owners of Cornerstone Bed & Breakfast in Philadelphia, PA, to learn more about how City Bonfires and its portable fires have helped them pivot their local hospitality business during COVID.

Tell me about Cornerstone Bed & Breakfast.

Cornerstone is a Victorian B&B located in University City on Drexel University’s campus in Philadelphia. We are the only “Select Registry, Distinguished Inn of North America” property in the city. Our location is the best of both worlds; next to the river and within walking distance from Center City. We are a six-room, traditional B&B, with a full breakfast every day and lots of special, personal touches. We like to think we are the mom and pop of Philly hospitality service.

We try to be more accessible and reachable. We are a fully-zoned bed and breakfast property. We try to bring the personal charm. Eric has 15 years of hospitality experience. We do everything from maintenance to repairs, breakfast, greeting, marketing, and social media. We are a real two-man band and we are hoping that through this we are bringing value to the mom and pops businesses around us. We are also civically involved. I serve on the Civic Association Board where we are trying to bring an all-women-owned farmers market to our neighborhood.  

What makes you different from other bed and breakfast inns or hotels?

Portable Bonfire & Tabletop S’Mores Maker

How do you use City Bonfires?

Where you spend your travel dollars matters. There is nothing cookie-cutter here, but it’s also not your grandma’s house! Safety is important. We go to levels that no other hotel can do; cleaning every surface on a thirty-minute schedule; using HEPA air filters. And it’s not just the housecleaners, the owners go in and clean each room also.

People crave someone to take care of them. If we hear there is an anniversary or a birthday, everything is included. It’s all about the personal service that comes from a small business–we bring the quality. We had the B&B for a year before the pandemic began. We are planning to add an extra patio and landscaping outside to make more room for urban campfires with City Bonfires!

On days that we are empty, we work sun up to sun down to make improvements to the place. WE are proud of all we have accomplished. We do extra things for every guest. We have to make sure we make their stay extra special. Staycations have been huge for us with people wanting to get away from the kids. We are so honored when anyone chooses to stay here. We know our competition and are humbled that people find out about us and choose to stay here. We will always have gratitude for our guests and that translates to the care and warmth that we give.

How did COVID impact your business?

When the pandemic hit, Philly tourism really took a hit between the riots, pandemic, etc. We created more things for people to enjoy us. We revamped our safety procedure and are now a certified “Select Safe, Stay Select” property. We amped up our social media, going from 500 followers to 3,000 followers! We now do our own public relations where we are constantly talking about our community involvement and have been written about in the Business Insider. Another big part of pivoting for COVID was convincing people to take gift cards. We applied for local and state grants; they have kept our doors open.

During COVID we are working with two core concepts: looking for other small, locally run family businesses to support and we are trying to make it so guests don’t have to leave the Inn when they come here to stay. We give people an activity to do so they can have fun and safely do it, like candlelight dinners or a tabletop fire so people can have their takeout.  

We have had to reinvent and really take care of people throughout their stay. We know how special travel is right now, it’s not a normal getaway, people have really gone through a lot to get to it. If there is something we can do to make it special–we will.

How did you find City Bonfires?

I found them during some of my mad Instagramming! City Bonfires came up. We discovered that they are a small business that was started by two people, like us. A few B&Bs in the area have done s'mores packages but they had to use a large fire pit. We are literally in the city, with limited space! So a tiny mini campfire, like City Bonfires, just made sense. We ordered the fire kits and personal s’mores kits and people immediately started booking. Everyone loves the whimsical feel and nostalgia that s’mores bring out. Having City Bonfires makes their visit special and it’s a great little feature.  

How do you use City Bonfires?

We offer a package when people book and we put a little menu with it. We offer six different types of s’mores options: Reese’s, peanut butter and banana, sea salt caramel chews, and more. It is a fun little thing that we do. Like our wraparound porch and the metal tables outside so people can come outside. These are the personal touches that a hotel would never be able to do. We try to give you a taste of Philly. All of our food is sourced locally. The Reading Terminal Market is one of the businesses we partner with. We are hyper-local.

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About City Bonfires

Every portable City Bonfires is handmade with ❤️ in Maryland with American-made materials by two Dads whose jobs were impacted by COVID-19. Each of our mini campfires is handmade with recyclable steel tins, non-toxic soy wax and, eco-friendly, all-natural biodegradable briquettes. Our kits are individually wrapped and packaged, making them safe for outdoor intimate gatherings, patio parties, or large events. We can ship our s’mores gift sets individually (to separate addresses) or as a bulk shipment. City Bonfires are also perfect as promotional products or as an icebreaker for remote or in-person corporate/business events, celebrations, or virtual team-building activities.