The sex store isn't in the business of renting rooms now -- not by the hour, not even by the night.

But Dr. John's recently moved into the former Economy Lodge and Suites, a depressing, 133-room motel near the airport exit on Interstate 80.

Dr. John's corporate owner, Bokonon LLC of Dallas, bought the 40-year-old motel in March for $620,000, and employees packed up their old store a couple of blocks away and reopened in the motel’s freestanding office, where they taped a sign to the door: Sorry, no rooms available.

“We’re not operating the motel; we just wanted the lobby building,” said Bonnie Bellamy, a regional manager for Dr. John’s.

It’s not clear what the company will do with the two motel buildings. Bellamy hadn’t heard yet from the store’s owners, and Bokonon officials in Texas couldn’t be reached for comment.

Most of the rooms appeared vacant this week, curtains hanging in pieces or stuck to the windows. The garbage area was overflowing, the pool dry. But there were still a few cars parked in front of some of the rooms of the motel, which offered long-term stays for those with nowhere else to go. Some guests lived there for years.

“We’re trying to get rid of everybody in the building, and we’re having a hard time getting people out,” Bellamy said.

But overnight travelers often couldn’t wait to leave. And once they did, they weren’t kind in their online reviews. It averaged 1.5 stars on TripAdvisor, two stars on Google.

Among the comments:

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* “I am absolutely aware of what a 'cheap' room usually entails, but this is beyond sub-par. With no other option, we left without staying, and took our business to Motel 6.”

* “Neighbors have 6 cats that are not house broken and 3 inches (conservative estimate) of trash in their floor.”

* “Drug users and convicted felons hang out in this area. Confirmed to have bed bugs in various rooms.”

* “There's always drama and cops.”

There weren't always cops, just about once every three days. In the past three years, officers have responded to 373 calls -- mostly disturbances, but also drugs, rapes and assaults -- according to the Lincoln Police Department.

And they're still responding, five times in April so far, even if the motel isn't booking new guests.

By comparison, the nearby Luxury Inn -- the next strongest cop magnet motel in the airport area -- drew police 208 times during the same three-year time period. The Econo Lodge across the street was visited by officers just 37 times in those three years.

The adult store didn't have any customers on Monday afternoon, but maybe its new advertising will change that. It replaced the Economy Lodge sign -- visible from the interstate -- with the Dr. John's logo, but it left the motel's digital room rate below it: $38.99.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7254 or psalter@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSPeterSalter.


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