Manor Care Inc.'s hesitancy in making a bid for the Ramada Inn and Howard Johnson hotel franchises apparently is causing a tug-of-war within the Silver Spring-based lodging and nursing-home company, says one insider.

So far, Manor Care Chairman Stewart Bainum Jr. has offered to discuss a buyout of the chains with their owner, Prime Motor Inns, and has looked over Prime's books, but hasn't put a deal on the table. Bainum's patience isn't matched, however, by the executives who run Manor Care's Quality International hotel and motel subsidiary, Bob Hazard and Jerry Petitt. While Bainum counsels caution, the expansion-minded Hazard and Petitt are eager for action, says a Manor Care source.

"There's a big difference in style" between Bainum and the lodging division officers, said the source. "If it was up to them, Bob and Jerry would have made an offer for something by now." Bainum was unavailable for comment.

While Manor Care makes up its mind, an investor group affiliated with the banking firm the Blackstone Group has signed a definitive agreement to buy the chains from Prime. The agreement doesn't preclude alternative bids, but time is limited.