The Cornhusker hotel is just that now, and no longer the Cornhusker Marriott.

As scheduled, the hotel lost its Marriott brand over the weekend, as Marriott International said it would. The company gave previous owner Atul Bisaria notice in December that it would pull the flag Sunday for his defaulting on their franchise agreement.

Bisaria's interest in the company that owns the hotel was auctioned Friday by LEM Capital to a company affiliated with LEM, which held a $3.4 million loan secured by Bisaria's ownership interest.

The Cornhusker remained on Marriott's reservations website Monday morning but will be taken off, Marriott International spokeswoman Paula Butler said in an email. She didn't say how soon the Marriott sign would be taken from the face of the hotel at 13th and K streets.

The value of the Marriott name is not just an aura of prestige. The reservation connections, room rates, rewards programs and other affiliations make it possible for a hotel to do better than it would otherwise, according to lodging industry analysts. 

Writing two years ago, Robert Habeeb, president and COO of First Hospitality Group of Rosemont, Ill., offered lodging managers and owners this advice about getting through the afflictions of the recession: "The bottom line is most franchises contribute significantly to the value of a hotel, and it is measurably harder to operate, succeed and ultimately sell a hotel property that has lost its franchise flag."

Bisaria defaulted on the franchise by failing to live up to an agreement made in May settling at least six earlier defaults, according to a letter sent Dec. 7 to Bisaria by John H. Moore Jr., senior vice president of full-service franchising operations for Marriott.

Bisaria owed Marriott $126,214.48, of which $84,065.75 is overdue, the letter said.

The new owners, affiliated with LEM Capital, a Philadelphia real estate investment firm, have not said publicly whether they will try to restore the Marriott flag or seek another, nor whether they intend to keep or sell the hotel. 

LEM partner Jay Eisner said in an email the company had no comment past its news release, issued Friday, that announced the auctioning of the hotel.

Island Hospitality, a Florida company, continues to manage the hotel.

Bisaria acquired the hotel in 2004 and made it a Marriott. His subsequent financial difficulties, which afflicted the lodging industry in most of the country, cost him lodging properties in Cincinnati, Detroit, Pittsburgh and now, Lincoln.

Reach Richard Piersol at 402-473-7241 or at