Words by Smiley Team
As unsuspecting as they come, the Lincoln Tunnel Motel sits in North Bergen, New Jersey just outside the Lincoln Tunnel leading into New York City. It has amassed more than 890,000 followers on TikTok alone and that’s not through glamour, appeal, or the tourists going there.
It’s because of the people running it, and what they do for the community around them. Often offering a place to stay to those in need.
Bryan Arya was born into the motel business, growing up in and around motels his whole life as his dad has run a series of motels for decades. But for much of his life, he didn’t want to break into the hospitality industry, and instead tried his hand at acting, even moving to Los Angeles for a period.
After striking it out, he decided to give the motel business a try and joined his now-retired father at Lincoln Tunnel Motel in 2012.
Known as "Brian the Motel Guy" online, he started posting videos of the motel on his TikTok, ltmotel, alongside his coworker “Steven the maid,” often joking about “Motel Hell” and taking part in humorous TikTok challenges while sprinkling in more heartfelt content. But it wasn’t until the beginning of the pandemic that the account really began to take off.
“People started getting quarantined, lockdowns starting happening, and then we started seeing an influx of unhoused people,” Brian told CBS News. “You know, they just couldn't afford rent anymore. And so, they'd come to our motel. And that just snowballed from there.”
After the account started blowing up and people became more aware of Brian and the motel, people began showing up not just for a room to stay but also often to help, donating food, purchasing rooms for others, and donating care packages as well. Brian wanted to create a place that people could be safe and accepted.
“And I realized that our place — what I was putting out there — was a place where you can go and no one judges who you are,” he told In The Know. “And that’s so important when you’re that age.”
Now, the motel is a place that gives back – one that offers people a room to stay when they need it, as well as food to eat, and essentials they need. To keep it going, they need the public's support.
DONATE: You can donate to the Lincoln Tunnel Motel’s #FreeRoomForU Initiative, which helps provide cost-free rooms to those without homes.
OFFER SUPPLIES: you can also provide supplies via Brian's Amazon wishlist.