Westin restaurant reopens after city-funded renovation
Mar 31, 2012 (Menafn - The Virginian-Pilot - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --VIRGINIA BEACH -- When The Lucky Star restaurant in the lobby of the Westin Virginia Beach Town Center was losing money last year, the city's Development Authority stepped in with about 200,000 to renovate the property.
A smaller, stripped-down eatery, renamed the Westin Restaurant and Bar, opened in the hotel lobby this month, along with a new city-owned conference room.
The city paid for the renovation out of a special capital-reserve fund intended to cover maintenance and repairs of city-owned conference space at the Westin. The account is replenished each year with 150,000 in city property taxes collected from the tax increment financing fund created a decade ago to develop Town Center.
The renovation project did not require a vote by the City Council or the council-appointed Development Authority, said Mark Wawner, a project manager in the city's economic development office. Armada Hoffler, the 38-story tower's developer, did not contribute any matching funds.
Most of the former Lucky Star dining space was converted into a 1,500-square-foot conference room, adding to the 9,500 square feet of space in the Westin already managed by the city.
Tables were set up around the existing bar area, and a glass dividing wall was constructed to separate the smaller restaurant space from the hotel lobby.
It might have been better to close the restaurant altogether, Wawner said, but the Westin flag requires the hotel to have one.
The smaller restaurant opened in early March, and will serve many of the same dishes. Crestline Hotels and Resort Inc., the company that manages the Westin hotel, will continue to run the restaurant.
Westin hotel managers say the smaller dining space will help the eatery turn a profit. City officials like the arrangement, too. They say the extra meeting space will draw additional conferences and ultimately boost city tax receipts.
"It's actually very positive," Wawner said. "It adds to our ability to make money."
The conference room already has hosted numerous events, he added.
The restaurant dining room was empty during the lunch hour Friday. Sports highlights flashed on muted TV screens above empty bar stools as a bartender wiped glasses.
Hotel restaurants often struggle to compete for business when they're surrounded by other dining options, said Bob Dorr, the Westin's director of hotel sales and marketing. That's especially true at Town Center, he said, where patrons can step out for craft beers, gourmet pizza or seafood.
"When people are in a meeting all day, at night they like to get out of the facility," Dorr said. "I do the same thing when I travel."
Mike Hixenbaugh, 757-222-5117, email@example.com
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