|By Steve Vied, Messenger-Inquirer,
Owensboro, Ky.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Dec. 21, 2012--Shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday, a big American flag -- snapping furiously in a stiff breeze -- was hoisted to the top of the future Hampton Inn & Suites hotel, signifying that the final and highest piece of structural concrete was in the place, seven floors above the ground on West Second Street in downtown Owensboro.
"It will get taller with parapets, but we have poured the concrete for the roof," hotel builder and owner Malcolm Bryant said as he looked skyward at the flag and the top of the $20 million, 150-room, convention-class hotel that will overlook the Ohio River upon its scheduled opening late next year.
Thursday's "topping out" ceremony was attended by construction workers and officials, future employees of the hotel, friends and well-wishers. Before moving to the outer south side of the building for the flag-raising, the group gathered in what will be the Lure Seafood & Grille, on the northeast portion of the ground floor. The 92-seat, upscale restaurant will share an 18-foot, 8-inch ceiling with the rest of the lobby and have entrances off Veterans Boulevard and St. Elizabeth Street. It will also feature outdoor seating on the Veterans Boulevard side facing the river and Mitch McConnell Plaza.
George and Nancy Skiadas, owners of Famous Bistro, announced plans to open the restaurant in the hotel earlier this year. On Thursday, George Skiadas stood in the restaurant's future kitchen area and gazed at the dining area.
"I'm trying to imagine all of it, the bar, the cooking area," Skiadas said. "It's going to be fine. We've had many walk-throughs. I'm trying to figure out where I need compressors for refrigeration. We're going for geothermal compressors."
In addition to fresh seafood shipped in overnight, the restaurant will offer high quality steaks, Skiadas said. The lunch menu will offer sandwiches and lighter fare. The restaurant will take up the entire east end of the hotel's first floor.
Bryant treated the workers and guests to a lunch of grilled hamburgers and thanked them for their work.
"We have visionaries here who saw all of this, and hard workers for sure," he said, smiling at the group of concrete workers in hard hats. "It's an honor to have you guys with us. It's delightful to see your work ethic and manners. We've got a building that will be standing long after all of us are gone."
Several employees of Bryant's Hampton Inn in south Owensboro attended. "They are key," he said. "They will help us make the mortgage payment."
During the ceremony, Terry Brownson, chief executive officer of Wendell Foster's Campus for Developmental Disabilities, was presented a check for $489, representing the value of recycled materials collected from the work site by construction workers. More checks for the organization will follow as recyclable materials continue to be collected and sold, Bryant said.
Steve Vied, 691-7297, email@example.com
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