The Green Valley Grill, a modern restaurant with a historical feel at the new O. Henry Hotel, is scheduled to open Dec. 1.
The restaurant and hotel are being built on Green Valley Road near Friendly Center by Greensboro's Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants & Hotels, owners of the three Lucky 32 restaurants. The Green Valley Grill is attached to the O. Henry Hotel but will have its own separate entrance and identity.Invited guests will have their first opportunity to tour the new restaurant and hotel at Thursday's pre-opening construction party.
Dennis and Nancy King Quaintance, with the help of Mike Weaver and other partners, hope they are creating a grand hotel that will have a warm ambience and sense of community along with modern amenities and great food.
Partners Dennis Quaintance and Mike Weaver, hard hats on their heads, stood among scaffolding and dust in the Green Valley Grill Friday afternoon with smiles on their faces. They discussed the progress as they listened to classical music on the sound system that had just been installed.
The design concept for the Green Valley Grill is a blend of tradition and innovation, Quaintance said.
``Our idea was that we 'discovered' an old, abandoned two-story building that was once a mill or a community store and time had claimed everything except the shell and the roof,' he said. ``We fantasized that this building was designed in a Tuscan style.
``So we took pictures of Tuscan-style buildings around Greensboro, like the Blandwood Mansion, the old store up on Highway 150 at Lake Brandt Road and the little pump house on Benjamin Parkway at Lake Daniel, and used them as our inspiration.
``Then we pretended that we truly had discovered the old building and restored it into a restaurant, with a huge wood-burning oven, rotisserie and grill.'
The shell is complete. The main dining room is two stories high with a gabled roof and brick walls punctuated by arches.
Now the finishing touches of the ``restoration' are under way. The open kitchen is still being installed. The bar isn't yet in place.
But Quaintance can visualize the completed restaurant. He describes the painting that will hang over the wide arch that leads to the open kitchen, the wood-burning oven that will eventually be clad in copper, the courtyard dining area that will be seen through the glass walls of the bar.
The tables and chairs have already been selected, as have the plates and silverware and glassware.
And Quaintance has a good idea about the food that will be served. He and the staff, including Green Valley Grill General Manager Reto Biaggi, have been holding tasting dinners to solicit opinions about potential menu items.
Like Lucky 32, the restaurant will feature different menus every month that relate to a region or ethnic cuisine. The Green Valley Grill's focus will be on Old World European cuisine.
``The Green Valley Grill might feature recipes from the Tuscan region of Italy one month and from the Provence region of France the next,' Quaintance said.
The menu will have a signature soup, which will be served hot in the winter and cold in the summer. A house salad dressing will be tossed on some salads before they are presented. Sandwiches, pasta dishes, seafood and pizzas will be featured.
The Green Valley Grill also will handle room service for the O. Henry Hotel's 131 rooms and catering needs for the O. Henry's 5,400 square feet of banquet space.
One banquet room in the hotel is named for educator-physician David Caldwell and the other for Charlotte Hawkins Brown, founder of Palmer Institute. The small Merchants & Manufacturers Room is named after the club, forerunner of the City Club, in the original O. Henry Hotel on Bellemeade Street.
Many of the hotel's details are borrowed from the historic O. Henry Hotel, built in 1919 and torn down in the 1970s: the brick and granite facade, the arched windows of the first level, the old-fashioned double-hung windows in the guest rooms.
The owners' passion is also a throw-back to the past.
``Years ago, communities had locally owned, passionately run hotels that were 'in and of' the community,' Quaintance said. ``These old hotels were close to where people lived and worked, and even though they served the traveling public, they also served their neighbors. They were real centers of community life and source of pride for the city.'
Corporate-owned hotel chains along interstate highways, Quaintance said, ``don't seem to fill the place that the old hotels filled in the hearts of their neighbors.
``So we thought, 'Let's bring back the neighborhood, community-centered hotels of old.'
Quaintance said there will not be a grand opening party for the O. Henry Hotel. ``We think it would be impossible to pull off in one event, since we want everybody in the community to come. So we aren't going to do a big bash.
``But we want everyone to come see the hotel. So we are going to have staff at the front door to take people on a 20- or 30-minute tour, almost like a museum, for the first few months.'