Kris Patrick, Staff Writer
The Lucas County Preservation Alliance provided an update on the progress of the Hotel Charitone at the January 17 Rotary Club meeting.
Ray Meyer, secretary/treasurer of the Lucas County Preservation Alliance led the discussion on the progress of the project.
Meyer said final plans for the restaurant were received last week. "We have been having weekly construction meetings since the project began," stated Meyer. The Alliance is a three-person Board of Directors: President Alyse Hunter, Vice President Denny Bisgard and Meyer. They, together with LLC manager Christopher Watkins have directed the project since its inception.
Tim Michael, manager of the Chariton Hy-Vee Food Store is coordinating the Chariton Market Grill restaurant until a general manager can be hired. The restaurant, structured after the Hy-Vee market Place Grill restaurants in Waukee and Urbandale, is due to open in late March or the first of April.
"A couple dates have been thrown out, but I am real skeptical of a mid March opening," remarked Michael. Michael will be hiring about 50 people to staff the restaurant. Positions include a general manger, kitchen manager, front house manager, five bartenders, four cooks and 30-40 wait staff.
The restaurant hours have been tentatively set for Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.(or 10 p.m.), serving lunch and dinner. Friday and Saturday hours will be extended to 11 p.m. with Sunday hours 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The restaurant may be closed one day a week depending on demand.
The Market Grill will have a variety of menu items including different kinds of burgers, pasta, sandwiches with Hickory House Smoked Meats, steak, pork, chicken and seafood. "We will have a historically unique family setting with seating for at least 64." The Sports bar will have its own established hours, seat around 25 and serve appetizers.
When asked if the restaurant will have a meeting room, Michael explained the room would have been so small that they are exploring wall partition options.
Meyer said the fun-raising council was integral in meeting the matching funds goal of $500,000. Hy-Vee funded $1.6 million as the impetus to gain community input. An additional $200,000 needs raised.
Out of the $413,615 raised, $300,000 is from individual contributions, with $135,386 of pledges remaining. Vredenburg Foundation donated $500,000 to the project. Meyer remarked that loans will be taken out for the amount not funded in donations.
The ninth Cornerstone booklet, out in March will include a complete donor list. Frank Myers and Ruth Comer are compiling a commemorative book with historic pictures, commentary and Hotel Charitone sponsors.
Dennis Bisgard explained that due to the complexity of the project an open house showcasing the entire building was impossible before the apartments were occupied, because the main floor is an active construction site. "We are entertaining the idea of an open house after the restaurant is complete."
Bisgard thanked apartment manager Evelyn Hull for her help in reassuring tenants during the move. "It was quite a challenge getting them moved in with construction on the south side and complications with the north doors." The north doors have security cameras and are not open to visitors after dark.
Alyse Hunter remarked that "patience" is the word of the day with a project of such magnitude. Heating the historic building during the polar freeze was challenging. The HVAC or heat pump system is keeping up with the needs of the residents. Heat is included in the rent ranging from $600 to $900 per month. Heating needs of the residents varies greatly and regulating the system is a work in progress state Bisgard.
All 12 apartments are occupied. Those interested in being placed on a waiting list need to contact Meyer. Lease terms range from six month lease with a six month renewal to a 12 month lease with a one month renewal.
When asked what the next project is, Meyer and Hunter informed the group the Hotel Annex immediately to the east of the 'hotel' is the next project. The heating system for the Hotel Charitone is on the newly rebuilt roof of the annex. The building has been gutted and plans are for two upper apartments with retail on the main level. The Alliance has written grants to help cover expenses and hope to be included in the facade rehabilitation project.