Mary Jo and John Smith

433 Cook Avenue
Jonesboro, IL 62952
(618) 833-5252

Meet the Owners

Let me take a moment to tell you about "us", the owners. My husband, John and I, (I'm Mary Jo, by the way) are transplanted Chicagoans. We opted to retire to a new lifestyle in 1998, wanting to get out of the "rat race" and spend more time together...the new American dream! Being empty nesters, we decided we could make this happen and chose Southern Illinois as our new home. With its warmer climate, hilly rural terrain, and its wonderfully friendly people, Union County was an ideal match for us.

Deciding to open a bed and breakfast was an idea that appealed to us instantly. What better way to meet new people and to do “a little something“ in this new life? People often ask if this had always been a dream of ours … ironically we had never stayed at a B&B! So as we set off on this new course of life, John and I decided that we had better get educated! Neither of us was certain that degrees in business were going to suffice for the hospitality industry! We had traveled a lot, however, and as we set off to create our vision of the "perfect B&B", we knew that we wanted to combine the amenities of a premier hotel with the private attention afforded by a small bed and breakfast. We also wanted to provide the elegance of an upscale establishment yet retain the relaxing atmosphere of a rural setting. At Hidden Lake we believe you'll find just that!

Our “education” centered on a sixteen week bed & breakfast curriculum at Oakton Community College. The only one of its kind in the country at the time, the curriculum focused on B&B Operations, Marketing, Management, Food Safety and, perhaps most importantly, Breakfast and Brunch Culinary Expertise! As John likes to tell our guests, I made him attend sixteen weeks of cooking school just so I wouldn’t end up in the kitchen alone! (And wouldn’t you know it, he ends up with the better grade!) But the sixteen weeks were well worth it! Today, a typical breakfast at Hidden Lake B&B consists of poached pears with a vanilla cream sauce, slices of crunchy raspberry crostada topped with toasted slivered almonds and a mile high pannekuchen topped with cinnamon apples and whipped cream! And we’ll never serve you the same thing twice during your stay! We have developed quite a repertoire over the years that we believe you will enjoy. And if you don't like what we serve, scrambled eggs and cereal are always a back-up!

The “little something” we first envisioned turned out to be a magnificent understatement. To-date, we have hosted guests from 38 states and 16 foreign countries! Hidden Lake now offers four wonderul suites, three with large double Jacuzzis and king-size beds. All offer the amenities of a vacation condo ... small refrigerators, microwaves, in-suite coffee service and so much more.

Most recently, we have added an Alaskan sled dog to our family. Part husky, part malmute, part greyhound, Keetna is from the Seavey IditarKeetnaod team out of Talkeetna, Alaska ... hence the name Keetna. She's tall and skinny at 53 lbs with beautiful blue eyes that John is always taking credit for ... he has the same blue eyes!

Keetna's mom, Lucky, and her, dad, Run's Fast, had an unplanned litter allowing us to bring "Keetna" home with us from our Alaskan vacation in 2010. Bred for speed and endurance, Keetna lives to play with anyone or anything. Her first choice, of course, other dogs but she's pretty certain that our guests come just to spoil her. And, of course, when she bats those baby blue eyes at them, they usually do!

But please, don't worry. If you are not a dog lover, Keetna does not have to part of your visit to Hidden Lake. She has an electronic fence that keeps her away from the lake, the gazebo, the woodland walkway and the majority of the 12 acres unless we are with her. Keetna has passed her Good Citizenship Test and is on her way to becoming a certified therapy dog.

So come visit Hidden Lake B&B! John and I are doing this for fun and we are enjoying every minute of it. It is our sincerest wish that you will too!



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