BRISTOL, Va. — The scents of springtime wafted on a cool breeze across the rooftop of The Bristol Hotel on Thursday afternoon as project principles shared a champagne toast.
The expansive space atop the former Executive Plaza in downtown Bristol will soon be transformed into the Lumac rooftop bar, a signature amenity of the Tri-Cities first boutique hotel, which is to open later this year.
Developer Marcus McCall, newly announced hotel general manager Kevin Kruse and Gavin Philipp, vice president of operations for management group Charlestowne Hotels, gave members of the news media an update on the 65-room hotel project on Thursday.
“This [rooftop] will be party central,” Kruse said while lifting a flute to toast the project. “This will really be the heart and soul of the town. We have great expectations, and we’re really looking forward to welcoming my fellow Bristolians up here to Lumac.”
The bar’s name comes from the acronym of a company, started by McCall’s grandmother, that owned the building, McCall said.
“It’s about family, it’s about being a legacy and something we think could carry on what Bristol has already begun. Bristol has a lot going on, and we think we can be a significant stepping stone for future growth and other people wanting to come here and enjoy Bristol — whether it’s a business, a wedding event, class reunions,” McCall said. “It’s exciting to hand this off to Kevin. This is truly a handoff to the Charlestowne Hospitality team.”
The Bristol Hotel project was first announced in May 2015, a $20 million-plus effort to rehabilitate the vacant 1920s era structure. Funding included a no-net loss agreement with the city, a grant from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, historic tax credits and private investors, McCall said.
“It’s very gratifying. It’s been a long time,” McCall said. “You can see the rooms and how they’re going to work. It’s one thing to see it on a blueprint. It’s really rewarding to see that come to reality.”
Work continues on every level of the eight-floor structure on Birthplace of Country Music Way, located adjacent to the BCM Museum and overlooking Cumberland Square Park.
Contractors are applying the shades of gray and white paint; installing wallpaper, bathroom vanities and ceramic tile; and preparing to install carpeting. The last phase for guest rooms will be installation of furniture, fixtures and equipment, starting on the seventh floor and working downward to the second floor.
The first floor, which will include the lobby, restaurant, another bar, ballroom and other meeting spaces, is to be finished simultaneously, McCall said.
“We get the keys from the contractor at the end of July and then the management company starts training. Kevin and his team will train, test the restaurant, test the kitchen and do some testing of people staying in the rooms,” McCall said.
McCall predicted the hotel will open by the end of August or early September.
Philipp said the hotel is now accepting reservations after Nov. 1 and will work backward as work is completed.
“Kevin has already started building his team. He’s hired a director of sales, a director of operations and an accounting manager. Things are really progressing. They’re getting a lot of candidates in through the door,” Philipp said. “We’re working on all the marketing, collateral and sales efforts for the hotel and getting the full website up by the middle of June.”
Kruse, who has 30 years of hospitality and hotel experience, said this marks his 65th hotel opening.
The full service, first-floor restaurant will be named Vivian’s Table, to honor McCall’s mother. It will operate in the brick two-story addition to the building and will offer 32 seats and sophisticated, regionally inspired Southern cuisine with fresh and locally sourced ingredients in a family-style environment.
The restaurant adjoins a lobby bar, which will showcase exposed brick walls and antique signage offering a glimpse into the building’s past. Also on the ground floor are 2,800 feet of meeting space in the former “Reynolds Arcade” to the rear of the building. That space will be available for meetings, wedding receptions and other events.
“We want people to understand how welcoming and approachable the restaurant, bar offering and rooftop bar will be for all the folks in Bristol and surrounding area. It will be a great, special place to come,” Philipp said.
The hotel will employ about 75, including part-time food and beverage staff.
“Banquets and catering events will be a big part of our business,” Philipp said. “We have some great meeting and event space.”
The main ballroom can accommodate about 200 seated for a meal, Kruse said. There is also a smaller ballroom and a board room, which offers a large table and meeting space for about 15.