|By By Mike Wilder, Times-News,
Burlington, N.C.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jan. 10, 2013--A convention center that can accommodate hundreds and a restaurant that attracts local regulars as well as hotel guests are among the strong points of the Ramada Inn and Convention Center in Burlington.
Now those areas will be enhanced, said Teena Koury, whose family has owned and operated the site since it opened in 1969. It is at 2703 Ramada Road, off Alamance Road near Interstate 40/85.
The facility is being renovated to bring it up to date, with the goal of furthering its appeal.
"We renovated in 2002 and 2005," she said, but, "We're doing really major work now. We're doing everything."
The hotel is known for its convention center, which Koury described as the largest between Greensboro and Durham. Because of Burlington's central location in North Carolina, it has attracted organizations that use it for statewide meetings.
"Our big calling card is the convention center," Koury said.
It is also used by local organizations for fundraisers and reunions, as well as for private events such as weddings. On Thursday, people were setting up for the Blessed Sacrament School gala and auction planned for Friday.
Before the expansion, the convention center and other meeting space could accommodate more than 500 people. That number increases by about 90 with the expansion, said Keith Chandler, who manages both the Ramada and the Best Western on Huffman Mill Road. The Koury family bought that property in 1980.
The expansion incorporates a bar into one of the large convention center rooms. The space was occupied by a grill and bar that was a longtime watering hole for hotel guests and Burlington residents.
Koury said improvements will include new furnishings and decor throughout the hotel, from private rooms to public spaces. Touches include decorative stained wood, re-done restrooms and wood tile in place of carpet in the hotel restaurant. In the private rooms, improvements extend beyond basics to new lighting, art and flat-screen TVs.
Many times, local residents as well as out-of-town guests who use the convention center choose to spend the night afterward. Koury said improvements throughout the hotel are meant to make that an attractive in-town option.
"Keeping people here in Burlington is our main focus so they don't have to go out of town," she said.
Dining will be adjusted once the project is finished.
"The restaurant is going to be used for breakfast, lunch and dinner," Koury said. Previously, breakfast and lunch were served there while a dinner menu was offered in a separate bar area.
"The buffet will still be here," she said, referring to the Southern-style cooking that attracts local residents to the lunch spread. The restaurant may or may not keep its O Hara's name, Koury said. The renovated restaurant will include a bar.
For now, the restaurant's dining area is in a room in the convention center.
Work on the hotel began in November. Chandler said hopes are it will be completed in February, minus some outside work that can be finished later.
Burlington-based Dodson & Chatman is doing the renovation, Koury said.
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