A Starbucks coffee shop is expected to open in the Ramada Plaza hotel in downtown Macon, the hotel’s new manager said Monday.
The sale of the Ramada which took place at an auction in March following a bank foreclosure, was finalized at the end of June, said Dr. Gunwant Dhaliwal, who bought the hotel under the name GSD Hospitality Group LLC. He is a physician in Florida.
Dhaliwal hired NVN Hotels, a Chicago-based hotel management company, to run the day-to-day operations of the Ramada Plaza.
“It’s an added amenity to our hotel for our guests and for the downtown market as well,” Kenneth Stovall, vice president of operations for NVN Hotels, said about the addition of Starbucks. He said he’s added the coffee chain to five other hotels that he manages.
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It will take three or four weeks to get all the equipment and supplies before the coffee shop can open, Stovall said. It will be located next to the restaurant on the first floor where a coffee café already exists “but it was never utilized,” he said.
“I hope I can have this done, if not by mid-August, no later than the beginning of September,” he said.
Dhaliwal bought the 16-floor hotel at 108 First St. for $1.9 million. The 298-room hotel on 2.2 acres was built in 1969. While the hotel has had several names in the past, Dhaliwal said the hotel’s Ramada flag has been retained and the name will remain.
One of the first things that has been done at the hotel is additional lighting and more will be done “so this building stands out in the downtown area so if anyone is looking from anywhere, they will notice that,” Dhaliwal said.
Also the hotel is being cleaned up and about 15 security cameras have been added, he said.
Employees are cleaning and opening up guests rooms on the second floor through the fifth floor that were closed about four years ago due to water damage from a sprinkler system, Dhaliwal said.
That work is expected to be completed by the end of August, he said.
While some of the previous employees have left others have been hired, and more are needed, Stovall said. The hotel is hiring in several areas including the restaurant, front desk and housekeeping, he said. Anyone interested can call 746-1461, apply at the hotel or apply by e-mail at GMmacon@NVNhotel.com.
The menu at the hotel’s restaurant has been changed to make it “more affordable and more appealing,” Stovall said. The restaurant’s Sunday brunch and lunch buffet continue to be offered as before.
Dhaliwal said he’s aware the hotel’s past image needs to be repaired with the public.
“The main thing is to bring up the reputation of the customer service and make the hotel clean,” he said. “We are trying to take care of those things and make it a better facility. We are trying to get those corporate travelers back. We will be starting an aggressive marketing (plan) once we clean up the place.”
To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.