NEENAH, Wisconsin—Cobblestone Hotels announced that Brian J. Wogernese, CEO and founder, passed away on the morning of October 18, 2022. In January 2022, Wogernese was diagnosed with advanced esophageal cancer. Throughout the last 10 months, Wogernese has gone through countless rounds of intense chemotherapy, surgeries, and treatments, all while remaining positive and continuing to guide his team, develop more projects, and do what he did best: dreaming big.
Wogernese started the Cobblestone Hotels brand in 2007, opening the first location in 2008 in Clintonville, Wisconsin. Those in the industry often heard him say he never dreamed Cobblestone would be where it is today, and at every annual conference, he would humbly stand on stage in awe and appreciation of the company’s franchisees and partner’s support. His passion for the hotel industry and bringing quality hotels to small U.S. towns has fueled the growth of the brand for over a decade and continues to ignite a passion within partners, team members, and fellow hoteliers. His love for the industry and the Cobblestone brand was infectious, and he referred to it often as “the Cobblestone Kool-Aid”.
Wogernese started in the hotel industry in 1992 as a hotel shuttle driver at a hotel in Minneapolis. From there, he worked in every department in a hotel, which in 2007 became the foundation of the Cobblestone brand, ensuring it would be a “franchisee-first” business because he knew what it was like on the franchisee side. In 1999, he started WHG Companies, now Slate Hospitality Group, a hotel management company that manages several brands and restaurants. Those who knew him saw his gears were always turning; thinking of new innovative ways to streamline processes or dreaming of new ways to grow the brand.
Riley Wogernese, Brian Wogernese’s eldest child, has joined the Cobblestone Hotels team in the last couple of years in multiple capacities, prepared to be the second generation of the Cobblestone Hotels’ legacy.