By SHANTEE WOODARDS
The Capital of Annapolis
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Loews Annapolis is in the midst of a multimillion-dollar renovation that officials hope will draw locals back to hotel restaurants and add to the growing West Street business corridor.
Over the next three years, the hotel will get a new restaurant, redesigned lobby and updated awning color, along with an expanded fitness center and additional guest rooms. Currently, the hotel restaurant is operating out of a temporary location while a new restaurant is created on West Street, instead of farther inside the hotel. The upcoming, unnamed restaurant will be combined with a bar and replace the hotel’s current restaurant, Breeze.
The new restaurant should debut in June, general manager James LoBosco said. This is the hotel’s first major renovation in seven years, costing at least $5 million. The project doesn’t add square footage to the hotel, but reconfigures existing space.
“A key point has been to create a restaurant for the community — a restaurant that happens to be attached to a hotel, rather than a hotel restaurant,” LoBosco said. “Years ago, people would get dressed up and go to a hotel dining experience. For whatever reason (now) people don’t feel restaurants within a hotel provide the same experience as independent restaurants. Or there’s the perception that it’s just for guests.”
Currently, two-thirds of the hotel lobby is closed for construction. Beyond dark windows and a temporary construction wall, workers are creating a 130-seat restaurant with a raw bar and exposed kitchen. The facility will also offer 35 seats outside. The new restaurant will offer tavern-style food and like Breeze, the menu will also feature Chesapeake Bay fare.
Bob Burdon, president and CEO of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce, said he was pleased that a national corporation was willing to make a substantial investment in the community. By placing the hotel on West Street, builders will be creating a new dynamic, he said.
“What they’re doing is they are investing in creating a West Street corridor, with retail, dining and shopping activities,” Burdon said. “People will be going up and down the sidewalks, driving up and down the street and be able to see — and probably be attracted to — the new dynamic on that part of West Street.”
The renovations began last year, with work on the Power House conference center, which had its interior and exterior restored.
The current phase of the project began in December, with the consolidation of the hotel bar with Breeze and moving them both to a temporary location. Previously, the restaurant and bar were separate.
The new restaurant is expected to open in June, and its temporary location will be devoted to event space. The lobby will get a modernized design that will feature the front desk in two pods and a mosaic behind it. Once this phase is complete, the hotel will move onto the next phase, which will impact the fitness center, ballroom and multipurpose area. Model samples of these rooms should be available soon, LoBosco said.
Currently, the hotel staff has been trying to avoid noisy interruptions for guests. Each month, the construction crew is sent a list of special events with color codes that indicate how much noise they can make.
“This will completely transform the guest experience,” LoBosco said. “… So far, everyone in the community has said they’re super excited.”
Information from: The Capital of Annapolis, Md., http://www.hometownannapolis.com/
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)