Convention center soon to undergo renovationsMarch 12, 2014
Convention center soon to undergo renovations
By Steve Wartenberg
The Columbus Dispatch • Wednesday March 12, 2014 8:12 AM
Nashville, Tenn., recently opened the $600 million Music City Center convention hall. Cleveland cut the ribbon on its $465 million Medical Mart & Convention Center in October.
“And Indianapolis just finished a big expansion,” said Joe Bocherer, vice president of sales for Experience Columbus, referencing the $275 million expansion of the Indiana Convention Center.
The takeaway from all these projects? The Greater Columbus Convention Center needs to up its game to compete with these and other cities for the bigger and more-desirable conventions, Bocherer said.
And plans are in the works to do just that.
The convention center soon will undergo a $25 million to $30 million renovation that will improve “the finishes, the ceilings, the lighting, the wall coverings,” said Bill Jennison, executive director of the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority.
The goal is for it to look similar to and blend seamlessly with the more-modern Hilton Columbus Downtown and Hyatt Regency hotels, which are connected to the convention center.
“We’ll have the same level of richness as the Hilton and Hyatt,” Jennison said.
The design process has begun and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The renovation work itself could be finished by the end of 2015, Jennison said.
“We’ll do it in phases, like they’re doing at Port Columbus, because we’re a busy, active building and can’t close,” he said. “We have to stay in full operation.”
The architecturally striking, pastel-colored convention center, which local residents seem to either love or hate, was completed in 1993. It was designed by New York architect Peter Eisenman, with support from local architect Richard Trott.
The convention center expanded in 2001 and is about 1.7 million square feet in size. The $40 million renovation of the Battelle Grand ballroom, the largest ballroom in the state, was completed in 2010.
“We’re definitely on the older side of our competitive set,” Bocherer said of the convention center. “And customers have certain expectations today.”
The opening of the Hilton Columbus Downtown led to several site visits by meeting decision-makers from several large national organizations with lofty expectations.
“They loved the Hilton and the convention center. The layout is great, and it’s so easy to use,” Jennison said. “But it didn’t have the same level of finish as a modern hotel like the Hilton or the Hyatt. It has a lot of drywall and paint.”
The renovation will be a conversation-starter for Bocherer and his sales representatives.
“It gives us a new story to tell,” he said. “It gives us something to talk about with someone who was here in the past but hasn’t looked at Columbus in a while.”
A local hotel executive also has expectations that a convention-center renovation will lead to more bookings and more heads on the beds in the adjacent hotels.
“It’s time for a refreshment to stay competitive,” said Charles Lagarce, CEO of Columbus Hospitality Management. It operates the Crowne Plaza and Lofts Downtown near the convention center.
He cited the opening of the Hilton and renovations at several competing Downtown hotels, plus the upgrades to Battelle Grand, as lures for these meetings.
“We’re in great shape here with our hotels, but we need to keep all the components fresh, and the convention center is at the end of its cycle,” Lagarce said.
Central Ohio hotels attracted nearly 14 percent more visitors in 2013 than in the previous year, which Experience Columbus officials say was caused by the opening of the Hilton and the booking of additional conventions.
The city recently bid to host the Republican National Convention and is expected to bid on the Democratic National Convention.
“This renovation is unrelated to the presidential convention bids,” Jennison said, adding that it could enhance the city’s bid. “This renovation is for the business we have today and the business we’re bidding on for tomorrow.”
Nationwide Arena would be the primary site for either national convention, with the convention center used as the media center, according to Experience Columbus officials.
LMN Architects of Seattle will lead the renovation of the convention center, with support from Columbus-based Schooley Caldwell Associates.
“LMN did the Battelle Grand renovation, and they designed the new convention center in Cleveland,” Jennison said.
The funds for the renovation will come from the bonds paid for by the city’s 10 percent bed tax, a portion of which goes to the county.
“Because we’ve been so successful in growing convention business and the bed tax, we can pay off the old bond and issue a new bond,” Jennison said.
Visitors discovering a vibrant ColumbusMarch 5, 2014
Visitors discovering a vibrant Columbus
By Mary Vanac
The Columbus Dispatch • Wednesday March 5, 2014 11:24 AM
Experience Columbus is aiming for a “world-class” label for the city’s convention and tourism business.
A recent bid to host the Republican National Convention in 2016 and a likely bid on the 2016 Democratic bash are considered the latest evidence of how far the city has come.
"We’re going to talk about some of the transformation our community is undergoing and some of the many projects that are making Columbus more beautiful, accessible and vibrant for our businesses,” Brian Ross, CEO of Experience Columbus, told a full house yesterday at his organization’s annual meeting at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
For instance, the city is studying passenger rail service to better connect Port Columbus with Downtown, said Columbus City Council President Andrew J. Ginther during a discussion with Ross and Franklin County Commissioner Marilyn Brown.
The discussion was introduced with driving rock music and photos of Columbus projected in the background.
“It’s not just about those direct flights and other things that we’re working on, but getting around Columbus once you get here,” Ginther said, citing new Car2Go and bicycle-sharing programs.
Brown pointed to the Columbus Museum of Art, which last year won a National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor for community service, as evidence of the city’s vibrant arts and cultural scene.
“We’re so fortunate that it is so vibrant, so wonderful, so accessible,” Brown said about the museum. “The arts scene is so important to bringing visitors in.”
Bicentennial Park at the Scioto Mile, COSI and Huntington Park also are draws for out-of-towners, Ginther said.
But the city’s arrival as an event destination was sealed in October 2012 with the opening of the Hilton Columbus Downtown hotel and its 532 guest rooms, said Lisa Hinson, the outgoing chairwoman of Experience Columbus.
Central Ohio hotels attracted nearly 14 percent more visitors last year, partly because of the new hotel, according to commercial real-estate firm CB Richard Ellis in Columbus.
“Make It Columbus,” an effort to attract more regional or national meetings that city residents would otherwise attend elsewhere, “resulted in bookings that represent an estimated $133 million in economic impact” in 2013, Ross said.
Meanwhile, the new hotel helped the Greater Columbus Sports Commission attract larger meetings and events, including the National Hockey League All-Star Game in 2015, said Scott Peacock, public-relations manager for Experience Columbus.
Hinson, a public-relations and marketing executive, said, “Our capacity to house that number of people certainly was greatly improved with the addition of the Hilton and its connectivity to the convention center.”
The city’s Arena District and Short North restaurants and art galleries are within walking distance of the new hotel and the convention center.
“Our foodie scene has grown and is getting national attention,” thanks to companies such as Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and Cameron Mitchell Restaurant Group, Hinson said.
In about two months, the Heart of Africa exhibit is expected to open at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
“This has been a longtime dream of Jack Hanna,” she said, “and it’s sure to bring visitors to our city.”
Downtown Hilton’s success rubbing offJanuary 31, 2014
Downtown Hilton’s success rubbing off
By Steve Wartenberg
The Columbus Dispatch • Friday January 31, 2014 7:58 AM
Central Ohio hotels attracted nearly 14 percent more visitors last year, and convention officials say it is in part because of the new Hilton Columbus Downtown.
The 532-room Hilton also has enabled Experience Columbus and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission to attract larger meetings and events that would have been out of reach in the past, officials said.
Hotel backers and experts say the upscale hotel on N. High Street, which opened in October 2012, is matching the high hopes that spurred construction of the convention hotel.
“Bidding on the Republican or Democratic national conventions (in 2016) and the NCAA women’s basketball Final Four (for 2017 to 2020) and hosting the NHL All-Star Game in 2015 wouldn’t be possible without the Hilton,” said Brian Ross, CEO of Experience Columbus, the city’s convention and visitors bureau.
About 115,000 additional hotel rooms were occupied in 2013 at area hotels, a 13.8 percent jump from the previous year, said Eric Belfrage, a hotel specialist with the commercial real-estate firm CB Richard Ellis in Columbus.
“It’s very noteworthy when we see that sort of additional supply absorbed as quickly as it was,” he said. “You ordinarily see demand grow 1 to 2 percent a year, and the growth we saw clearly indicates Brian and his team have been doing their job and getting events into the convention center.”
The Hilton also was a boost for the nearby 633-room Hyatt Regency, which had more guests and a higher average room rate in 2013 than the previous year, said Hyatt General Manager Stephen Stewart.
The new hotel “brought in greater numbers of people and drove more attention here,” Stewart said of the Hilton’s effect on all the Downtown hotels.
“From a customer standpoint, it’s appealing to know the community is investing in more accommodations, and this is especially appealing to big groups.”
This is also good news for Downtown businesses, especially those near the convention center.
“Foot traffic from the hotel has been noticeably up,” said Jason Fabian, general manager of Barley’s Brewing Co., about a block from the new hotel. “Sales were up last year. We feel confident that the Hilton played a role.”
Rick Wolfe, executive director of the North Market, expects to see greater traffic for his merchants when the convention center lands more big events in the future.
“Now that we have this full-service hotel, a number of (convention) opportunities that weren’t there before are now on the table,” Wolfe said. “It will be a game-changer in the long run.”
The Hilton’s 194,000 room nights per year had a minimal effect on the overall occupancy rate for the city’s hotels.
The occupancy rate for hotels in metropolitan Columbus was 61.8 percent in 2013, down from 61.9 percent the year before, according to statistics compiled by STR, a hotel-research organization, and Experience Columbus. The occupancy rate for Downtown hotels was 64.5 percent in 2013, down from 66.6 percent the previous year, according to the two organizations.
The average daily room rate for hotels in the metropolitan area was $90.14, up from $85.99 in 2012.
For Downtown hotels, the average nightly rate was $123.71, up from $117.50 in 2012.
“I can’t mention our specific numbers, but they were very good, much better than expected,” said Christian Coffin, general manager of the Hilton Columbus Downtown. “It usually takes 12 to 18 months to ramp up, and we did it in six.”
Coffin has worked at Hilton hotels in Boston, New York City and Philadelphia and said the collaboration here between the hotels, local businesses, Experience Columbus, and city and county officials is “phenomenal.”
“Everything is firing on all cylinders, and there’s so much support,” he said. “And what the mayor and other folks are doing right now to get the Republican or Democratic national conventions here (in 2016) is exciting stuff and would really put us on the map.”
The $160 million Hilton was built with county-backed bonds. The hotel’s portion of the 10 percent bed tax is used to repay these bonds.
“We had a very good first full year,” said John Christie, chairman of the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority.
“We paid (the required) $10.1 million for the bonds in 2013 and already have a balance of $3.7 million for the next payments,” he said, crediting Coffin and his team for the hotel’s smooth operations and better-than-expected revenues.
The Hyatt Regency’s Stewart declined to give specific occupancy and room rates for his hotel.
“When we compete with other cities, I know what Columbus offers is a large convention center, over a million square feet, and its connectivity with hotels and the Arena District,” he said. “For the community, additional hotel rooms mean additional conventions.”
Bringing in more big meetings is the goal of Experience Columbus.
“In 2011, we had 28 ‘citywide events,’ which is a meeting that booked 750 or more rooms on its peak night,” said Joe Bocherer, the group’s vice president of sales.
There were 33 such meetings in 2013, and Bocherer said the goal of 46 in 2017 is reachable.
Soon, say Bocherer and Ross, it might be time to build another large, full-service convention hotel.
“Our convention center will support at least another 1,000 hotel rooms,” Ross said.
Dispatch Reporter Mary Vanac contributed to this story.
Hilton Columbus Downtown: Artist's evolution of style intriguingJanuary 26, 2014
Hilton Columbus Downtown: Artist's evolution of style intriguing
By Elizabeth Trapp
For The Columbus Dispatch • Sunday January 26, 2014 5:28 AM
The artistic career of 90-year-old Donald Roberts spans 50 years.
The evolution of his style is evident in the dozen paintings and drawings on view in the lobby of the Hilton Columbus Downtown hotel, with additional works at Muse Gallery in German Village.
All are from an exhibition at the Kennedy Museum of Art at Ohio University in Athens, where Roberts taught from the 1950s to the early ’90s. And each graceful painting and drawing demonstrates his lyrical relationship with nature.
Three of the Hilton works, dating from the mid-1960s to the ’70s, aren’t Roberts’ strongest, but they are in step with the reigning style of the time — the hard-edge abstraction of Frank Stella. Clean lines and repetition characterize Aureole — Winter, a pristine painting evocative of computer- generated design. Varying geometric forms are drawn on the canvas, with some aspects of the composition illuminated with flat coats of paint.
Roberts’ later work, from the mid-1980s to the present, replaces the hard-edge abstraction with energy, fluidity and motion — expressed in broad marks.
His charcoal drawings are perhaps the strongest works.
Two of them, Island Sky Garden — Sphagnum and Untitled, capture the simultaneous dance of grace and aggression that Roberts has with the paper or canvas. You can almost feel his arm sweeping around the paper.
Not only are his hard-edge forms replaced with expressive strokes, but all-over, biomorphic forms also encroach on the surface of his work. The strong visual connection to early abstract expressionists Arshile Gorky and Willem de Kooning is especially evident in Roberts’ more recent paintings.
Stone Garden, representative of his smaller paintings, is filled with vibrant veils of color created by the watery gouache medium and other painted pieces collaged to the painting’s surface. This creates a slight sense of three-dimensionality.
The use of expressive contour line, in Hermes carries the graceful qualities of the charcoal drawings into a larger-scale oil painting. Diaphanous forms, which seem to be derived from a botanical source, emerge from the mostly white surface in pockets of yellows and flesh tones.
To make the retrospective fuller, more than a dozen additional works by Roberts — ranging from pocket-size to large-scale paintings — are on display at Muse Gallery. They are shown with more representational paintings of his wife, June Carver Roberts.
The playful dialogue created by husband and wife adds even more spirit to his work.
4-Diamond AAA rating goes to five local hotelsJanuary 21, 2014
4-Diamond AAA rating goes to five local hotels
By Steve Wartenberg
The Columbus Dispatch • Tuesday January 21, 2014 10:11 AM
In the hotel industry, a Four Diamond rating from AAA is a big deal, even for gleaming new convention hotels.
When officials of the Hilton Columbus Downtown announced it had received the top AAA mark at a recent meeting with the hotel’s staff, “A big cheer went up,” said Julia Hansen, director of sales and marketing for the hotel, which opened in October 2012.
Four other local hotels received the recently announced Four Diamond designation: Embassy Suites Columbus Airport, Hilton Columbus at Easton, Hilton Columbus/Polaris and the Renaissance Columbus Downtown.
“It’s one of the most-important designations and is looked upon by the industry and by consumers as a way to find great hotels,” said Matt MacLaren, CEO of the Ohio Hotel and Lodging Association.
High ratings and high scores on customer-service rankings can lead to more room bookings and additional convention business, Hansen said. She declined to give specific occupancy numbers for the Hilton Columbus Downtown in its first full year of operation but said, “We beat expectations.
“The longer you work in the hotel industry, the more you understand how important this is.” She added that earning four diamonds was one of the hotel’s goals when it opened. “It’s the best-known rating system.”
Fifteen Ohio hotels received four diamonds, while only one — the Inn Walden in Aurora — earned five, the top designation. The Westin Columbus was awarded four diamonds in 2013, but received three in the most-recent rankings.
“This shows we have some great hotels here” (in central Ohio), MacLaren said. “And it shows they’re doing well and are well-managed and are putting money back into their properties.”
There are about 240 hotels in the Columbus area, says Experience Columbus, the city’s convention and visitors bureau.
Two local restaurants received AAA’s Four Diamond rating: the Refectory Restaurant & Bistro and M at Miranova. Ten Ohio restaurants received this rating, while none achieved five diamonds.
To achieve four diamonds, a hotel must “be stylish and refined with upscale attributes,” AAA says. “Guests receive personalized attention from an experienced staff and expensive amenities in a luxurious setting.”
Three of the five local hotels to garner four diamonds fly Hilton flags. The Hilton at Easton has been on the list since 2001.
“It ties in with our brand standards,” Hansen said, adding that the amenities the Hilton Columbus Downtown has include an indoor pool and whirlpool, fitness center, executive suite, in-room dining, restaurant/bar and valet parking.
AAA inspectors make unannounced visits to 1,200 hotels every week.
Several other local hotels offer excellent service and amenities, MacLaren said. “But they don’t have all the amenities required to get four diamonds. A lot of times, it’s because of food and beverage. ... They don’t have a full-service restaurant.”
To make the AAA Four-Diamond grade, a restaurant must “offer a distinctive dining experience, complete with creative chefs, imaginative menus, fresh top-quality ingredients and knowledgeable staff,” AAA says.
Best Residential/Hospitality Project: Hilton Columbus Convention Center HotelNovember 18, 2013
Best Residential/Hospitality Project: Hilton Columbus Convention Center Hotel
By John Gregerson
Scaling of the 13-story, 532-room Hilton Columbus Convention Center Hotel not only responds to pedestrians but also nearby low-rise vintage structures and taller glass and steel-clad buildings that serve as a backdrop for the hotel.
To mediate among the three, project team members incorporated combinations of glass, stone and masonry into the facade at varying heights and a series of setbacks along major elevations.
A block-long "flying-carpet" glass canopy addresses the challenges inherent in designing an entrance facade along a thoroughfare with a grade increase of more than 6 ft across the 240-ft-long site.
Other configurations maximize efficiencies, with a ring-shaped guest tower sited atop a rectangular three-story podium housing a ballroom, lobby functions and meeting space. A 400-seat restaurant and bar are located on the podium roof, which serves as the base of a 10-story interior atrium framed by guest room wings and capped with a sloping glass ceiling, allowing natural light to flood spaces below.
In a nod to sustainability, team members specified high-efficiency boilers, low-flow fixtures and other systems, targeting a 32% reduction in energy consumption, a 30% reduction in water usage and 7,870 fewer metric tons of CO2 emissions on an annual basis.
In all, 86% of construction waste was recycled and 11% of building material derived from recycled materials. Nearly one-quarter of building materials were sourced within 500 miles of the site, with more than half of the wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
After learning that extended shutdown of a major artery wasn't an option, team members elected to pre-assemble a 138-ton, 105-ft-long pedestrian skybridge linking the hotel and the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
To do so, design and construction teams collaborated to develop alternative schemes that maintained the original design intent, including modifications to welded and bolted connections.
Crews performed hoisting operations over a weekend, limiting a shutdown of the street to only two days.
Owner Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority, Columbus, Ohio
GC Turner Construction Co., Columbus, Ohio
Designer HOK, Chicago
Columbus, Ohio: A Destination For CouplesSeptember 14, 2013
Columbus, Ohio: A Destination For Couples Part 3
Published: September 14, 2013
By: Kristen of Mudpies & Tiaras
I worked with a PR agency to facilitate these reviews. I received 2 nights free lodging, a food tour, some free passes and one $25 gift card. Some places reviewed were done so at my own expense. No other compensation was received and as always, all opinions are my own.
This is part 3 in a series about Columbus, Ohio.
A dinner so spectacular it gets it’s own post. While we were in Columbus, we had the opportunity to have a dining experience at the Gallerie Bar & Bistro at the Hilton in downtown. It. Was. Wonderful. From the moment we walked in we loved the atmosphere of the hotel itself.
It was an open concept type of place. With a great view of the night sky. Inside the restaurant it was open as well which gave it a lovely ambiance. The big, open view and sparkly white lights glistening above the tables. We decided to take our servers suggestions on most everything on the menu. I started with a Spinach Salad and my husband tried the Bistro Salad. Both were just exceptional.
Next the chef sent us an Amuse-bouche of seared tuna with an awesome wasabi sauce! Our entrees were even more amazing though. The Gallerie Bar & Bistro proudly buys much of their menu from local farmers! Since this is a big reason to eat there, I ordered the Summer Vegetables and they blew my mind! Each bite was perfectly done and literally bursting with flavor. My husband ordered the servers suggestion of Lamb Loin done to the servers suggestion as well which I believe was Medium Rare.
Did I mention we also got desserts? Oh yes we did! Our server brought us each some hot coffee.
He ordered a Peach dessert that almost too beautiful to eat. It was something like Peach shortbread with sliced peaches and homemade peach ice cream. I ordered the dessert called Chocolate & Peanut Butter. Divine.
This dinner was lovely. I did not even want to leave. But then our server told us that the hotel boasted artwork done by local artists and that if we had time we should explore. So we did. We were amazed at the local talented represented and I had to get a photo of our favorite. At first glance it appears to be a great photograph. But check out the sign beside it.
That is an Oil painting. That blew my mind! Amazing job! Thank you Hilton for the most amazing meal of my life. Next time we want to stay at the Hilton and eat there again.
Ohio: Hilton Columbus DowntownSeptember 13, 2013
A hotel that doubles as an art gallery also strives for artistry on the plate
Published:September 13, 2013
By Karen Shimizu
Link to article: http://www.saveur.com/article/hotels/ohio-hilton-columbus-downtown?src=SOC&dom=fb&l=OrMCe04Lcp0lODlM-Ec-0xYP3E57PzhLEIm6T5--PtAQ6UcyB0FG1G-OujMHOpTJxfQiUme7oEoK6UG1mSR67NPK_LF9_gd6cTgKw3NtIaIlOAo
Since the 1980s, the neighborhood in Columbus known as the short north—14 blocks in downtown Columbus—has been and continues to be a bustling arts district, home to 40 art galleries and dozens of great restaurants. The neighborhood’s biggest gallery—and the only one open 24/7—also happens to be a hotel.
A stay at the Hilton Columbus Downtown, which opened in late 2012, feels very much like what it might be like to sleep over at the Museum of Modern Art. At the heart of the building is a soaring, 15,000-foot tall atrium, and all of the public spaces, and each of the 532 rooms, are appointed with works purchased or commissioned from local artists. Behind the front desk of the Hilton Downtown Columbus there hangs a pointillist composition by Granville, Ohio artist Christian Faur of 30,000 crayons stood on end, the crayons creating a pixel-like effect that adds up to a picture of the Downtown Columbus skyline. The spacious suite where I stayed commanded an amazing view of the city (the hotel is the tallest thing around, so you can see clear to the horizon). Vibrant paintings from local artists hang on the walls, as well as over the beds. (One of the restrooms in our suite had a Thurber print—a dubious homage to one of the city’s most famous native sons.)
The hotel restaurant, Gallarie Bar & Bistro, set in the Atrium, also strives for artistry on the plate. Executive chef Bill Glover (also of Sage, an American fine dining restaurant on nearby High Street), serves hearty bistro-ized new Amerian food: locally sourced Amish chicken stuffed with herb mousseline; scallops in blackberry ketchup; braised veal shank; moules frites. Our favorites were the appetizers–scallops topped with foie gras with red pepper marmalade; bone marrow with a caper-arugula salad and grilled bread—and a hell of a breakfast. And "Eggs Bennie"—poached eggs and shaved ham served over a savory bread pudding of croissants steeped in a sage-infused custard—that I can’t wait to try again when I’m next in town. —Karen Shimizu
ColumbusUnderground.com Restaurant Review: Gallerie Bar & BistroMay 31, 2013
Restaurant Review: Gallerie Bar & Bistro
Published on May 31, 2013
By: Miriam Bowers Abbott
Alright fancypants, let’s check out Gallerie Bar & Bistro. It’s the restaurant inside of the new downtown Hilton.
First, there’s the Gallerie/Gallery part. Throughout the hotel floor that houses the bistro, there are giant, gorgeous murals hanging on the walls. You don’t really see guests chilling out, ogling the art… but it’s worth some eye-time. The colorful masterpieces are scattered all over the place. An art conniseur would have something more intellectual to say about this collection. From a food-person’s perspective, it’s just super pretty.
Then there’s the Bar/Bistro part. It’s a funky hybrid between utilitarian and ritzy. Guests will find containers of sugar packets on the dining tables, and slide-y seats on the dining chairs: those could be the trappings of a down-home diner. Then again, bright white booth seating and asymmetrical vases of flowers on each table say “upscale”. It’s a quirky-cool mix.
The servers are not quirky at all. They’re pure professionals: friendly and polite, but not too chatty.
The menu makes that same bridge between fanciness and comfort. You can sort of see it right from the beginning with the Bistro Salad. If you’ve ever had a wilted lettuce salad, you recognize a concoction with some white trash roots. Wilted lettuce is actually a briny wonder that ties lettuce and hot bacon (and hot bacon grease) together with a simple vinaigrette.
So it’s cool that the Bistro Salad ($8) feels a little reminiscent of that old classic. True, the frissee upon which the hotel’s offering is based is relentlessly perky, but it’s also loaded with lardon (the best menu term ever used for thick-cut bacon: “lard-on”), sweet pickled onions, and a nice vinaigrette. There’s a poached egg too. Simple, yet fab.
For something a little greener, there’s the straight-up Mixed Greens Salad ($7). It’s a combo of mixed greens, almonds and a Dijon vinaigrette.
At lunch, there are sandwich options such as Croque Monsieur ($9). Again, it’s a comforting dish with three layers of thinly cut brioche piled high with ham and topped with a double-rich combo of béchamel and gruyere.
There’s also burgers. The lunch menu actually features two burgers, one is a $22 number: the Rossini Burger. It apparently involves foie gras, morbier cheese and truffle mayo. It could be that an ethical objection to force-fed-goose-liver-pate explains why the Rossini went un-tried. In reality, $22 seemed like an insane price for a burger, even for a lark.
So, for less adventurous pocketbooks, there is the reasonably priced Bistro Burger ($12). It’s got arugula for a fancy lettuce, and more of those pickled onions. At the end of the day, it’s a good burger.
For the fork-and-knife-crowd, Flatiron Steak Au Poive ($18) is a thoroughly pleasant option. It’s a generous, lean cut of tender steak. While it’s not quite the same as a dry-aged number, it’s a good steak. It came with a sauce (“congac veal jus”) and teeny cubes of potato hash, both elements made it more interesting.
You can check out the Gallerie Bar & Bistro at 401 N. High Street inside the Hilton hotel.
More information can be found online at www.hiltoncolumbusdowntown.com.
Photos by Mollie Lyman of www.fornixphotography.com.
Playing to the GallerieMarch 2013
Playing to the Gallerie
Recruiting veteran chef Bill Glover was a smart move for Hilton restaurant
By Shelley Mann
In the March 2013 issue of Columbus Monthly
Link to article: http://www.columbusmonthly.com/March-2013/Playing-to-the-Gallerie/
Ho-hum hotel dining is so expected, it feels rare and special to find a hotelier that entrusts a chef to create a notable restaurant—sometimes at the risk of allowing the restaurant to outshine the hotel itself.
Hilton hotels seem to have a knack for this. In Cincinnati, Todd Kelly’s Orchids at Palm Court is regularly named one of the city’s top spots; celebrity chef John Besh heads up Luke, a well-regarded brasserie inside Hilton’s New Orleans business district hotel. Gallerie, the restaurant inside the chain’s splashy new Downtown Columbus hotel, with a plum location adjacent to the Short North and the Arena District, is on track to do the same.
As with those other hotel restaurant standouts, much of Gallerie’s appeal lies in its chef, Bill Glover, whose face you may recognize from Sage American Bistro, where he still pulls double duty as executive chef.
Glover seemingly came out of nowhere to wow Columbus with Sage, an intensely personal north-of-Campus restaurant named after his daughter. His imaginative approach to food is refreshing in the sometimes stuffy realm of fine dining, and is a nod to his self-taught background—Glover skipped cooking school to soak up inspiration through travels, and honed his technique at country club gigs.
The heavily tattooed, chatty chef knows how to cook, and also how to have fun—this is the guy who once pulled off a seven-course “monochromatic” wine dinner in which each course stuck to a single color.
With Gallerie, Glover and his team, including Michael Mejia, former general manager at Martini, have established a restaurant that’s just as appealing for out-of-towners hankering for an impressive Ohio-style meal as it is for locals looking for a fancy night on the town.
The restaurant makes its unconventional location an asset, essentially borrowing the hotel’s atrium for its 12-story dining room. A few half-walls carve the dining room into separate sections, and give brightly lit white leather booths the illusion of privacy—despite the fact that windows in every room provide guests a peek at the diners below. In that way, Gallerie is the near opposite of Sage, a cozy, low-lit, brick-walled space.
But at its heart, this new restaurant feels just like Glover’s original spot—the menu reflects his preference for seasonal, locally sourced bistro fare, right down to the blackberry scallops that put him on the Columbus dining map.
That dish ($28) is just as quirkily irresistible as it was back in 2008, when Glover first started serving it at Sage. Four giant seared sea scallops are adorned with dollops of the chef’s signature sauce, a sweet-with-a-bite blackberry ketchup. The scallops soak up an intriguingly salty Meyer lemon beurre blanc, making a seafood dish so decadent, it feels almost like dessert. Crispy-edged polenta planks add some pleasing geometry and crunch to the plate, though wilted bok choy makes an anemic vegetable counterpoint.
Another carryover dish from Sage, the Flintstones-esque Bone Marrow starter ($14) feels even more visceral at Gallerie. Two thick beef bones weren’t even fully stripped of cartilage before being split lengthwise and heaped onto the plate. Nestled inside each open-faced bone is roasted marrow, a silky, buttery delicacy meant to be spooned onto grilled bread, topped with a bit of bacon-braised red onions and arugula salad, and eaten. Each bite is pure primal bliss.
I raved about the Duck Duet ($24) for weeks after first digging my fork into its crackly lacquered skin. That skin hides succulent confit leg and thigh meat, paired with a quick-seared breast that’s nearly as juicy. On top, a glistening red cabbage marmalade adds a kiss of something sweet.
Other favorite entrees: a hearty braised rabbit stew ($29) served over thick ribbons of pappardelle and a nicely braised veal shank ($29) that gets some crunch from a flurry of shaved raw Brussels sprouts.
Gallerie Mussels were a bit of a letdown. The beloved bistro snack has no connection to Ohio, and maybe that’s the problem. For $18, you get one-and-a-half pounds of Prince Edward Island mussels served in a heavy cast-iron skillet. Six traditional preparations are offered; we chose Basquaise, steamed with white wine, bell peppers, shallots, tomatoes and herbs. Still, the dish lacked punch; roasting those veggies first could’ve gone a long way in deepening the flavor.
A charcuterie board ($30 for a crowd, or a smaller $15 plate suitable for two) is a better starter—the beautiful composed platter of cured meats and cheeses with seasonal accompaniments resembles a work of art, especially appropriate at this hotel, where artwork from local artists adorns nearly every wall.
Delta Sky Magazine: Columbus Travel ProfileMarch 2013
Profile: Columbus The New Midwest
Link to article: Delta Sky Magazine, March 2013
Bipartisan, collaborative and a beacon for a resurgent economy, Ohio's capital is the city others want to be.
Chefs Collective Dinner at GallerieMarch 8, 2013
Chefs Collective Dinner at Gallerie
By Shelley Mann
Posted on: Friday, March 8, 2013 03:47 PM
Bill Glover, the executive chef at Gallerie, has organized a pretty amazing local chefs dinner next Wednesday at his Hilton restaurant -- and there’s still a chance to get tickets.
The first Chefs Collective Dinner will bring eight Columbus chefs together in the same kitchen, where they’ll produce an eight-course, farm-to-table-themed tasting menu. All courses will be paired with wines selected by sommelier Chris Dillman, and guests can sip on a special Watershed cocktail during a happy hour reception beforehand.
The dinner, a benefit for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, also serves as a kickoff to Gallerie’s monthly themed wine dinner series, which will be held on the second Wednesday of each month. I chatted with Glover to find out more about Wednesday's dinner.
How did the idea originate?
What I was going for is creating an event that I want to do twice a year, where I invite local chefs--from not only Columbus but from the area-- in an effort to promote the community and the ideas that we all share. We’re giving this to the city as an opportunity to try a collection of the city’s food in one location.
How did you pick the chefs?
I wanted chefs with a common philosophy on how we approach food. These are all people I have great relationships with, and nobody on this list is a pretentious egomaniac. We’re all cooking-from-scratch-type thinkers who really embody Ohio cooking.
What kinds of guidelines did you give the chefs?
I gave everyone a main ingredient and that was it. I pulled names out of a hat to see where they would go in the procession, and wrote the menu from there. So for Matt Litzinger from L’Antibes, he got tuna. Tom Smith from Worthington in got a crustacean. Josh Dalton of Veritas, I asked him to do squab or pheasant. David Tetzloff from G. Michael’s got veal. So it wasn’t rigid, but gave them a point of reference.
What dishes are you most looking forward to?
Tom Smith is doing a warm Dungeness crab, and David Tetzloff is doing a veal shortrib. Josh Dalton, I’m looking forward to seeing what his is. He sent me his description and it’s three words: Pheasant Beet Cornbread.
And what are you making?
I’m doing a trio of lamb. It’s sous-vide lamb loin, fried lamb sweetbreads, and a faux lamb bone that’s a heart of palm filled with bone marrow.
What can we expect from future events?
Last night I had a beer with Jonathon Sawyer of Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland, and we talked about an idea for the fall where we’d like to do Rust Belt chefs, from Indianapolis, Dayton, Cleveland, Cincinnati. It’s about bringing minds together, and bringing attention to our food.
The Chefs Collective Dinner begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 13. It's open to 50 guests, and some seats still remain. Fore reservations, call 614-484-5287.
At-Home Chef: Gallerie Bar & BistroMarch 1, 2013
At-Home Chef: Gallerie Bar & Bistro
Lobster Gnocci from within the walls of downtown's new diamond-studded hotel
By Kimberly Stolz
Published March 1, 2013
“That’s a lot of bugs,” said the salt-water brined Maine voice in response to Chef Bill Glover’s lobster order.
“I was, like, I’m sorry?” laughed the chef. “But that’s what they call ’em up there.” From plebian grub to luxurious repast, the lobster has clawed its way up the culinary food chain. Prehistoric and dangerous looking, they are often purchased with thick bands around its mighty claws, wrangling the lobster rewards the diner with meat awash in its own succulent stew.
“You know, the bands on the lobster claws are there to protect the lobsters from each other, not to protect you,” explained Glover, picking up a lobster and admiring its insect-like figure. Lobsters at the Gallerie Bar & Bistro are flown in from Maine, where the cold water and salinity foster crustaceans with meat that fills the shell. “With my ingredients, I try to stay in the United States to exemplify the bounty of the U.S. – here in Ohio, it is also bountiful. There are so many farms within 100 miles.”
When purchasing a lobster, Chef says to look for the active ones, with a bright blue hue around the joints. When the fishmonger pulls it out of the water, you want the legs to be really moving, he added, the minute they die, there’s a danger of toxicity from an ammonia spike in the entrails.
“Sometimes the home cook is intimidated by buying whole lobsters because they’re a lot of work,” he said, shaking his head. “I think in this day and age, it’s unfortunate what people think is a lot of work, I mean, things take time, you have to cook it, it has to simmer, you gotta do these things.”
Acknowledging the problems that some have with plunging a live lobster into boiling water, Chef shrugs his shoulders, “It’s really very quick … I’m not in the business of ethics, if you want to eat, eat. You’re a responsible adult, it’s not up to me.” Perusing his mis en place, chef notes that adding the zest of lemon brightens the dish, without blowing it out with acid, while the portabellos are a lovely earthy foil for the lobster.
Choosing the perfect portabello means paying close attention to the meaty mushrooms. “You wanna look for undamaged caps, firm, and you can tell how long they’ve been cut by how woody the stem is – another thing, the little cracks on the cap signal dehydration, which you don’t want.”
While many restaurants dress up the lobster like it’s going to a plating prom, Glover prefers to pair the gleaming white meat with gnocchi – a comfort food dish, albeit a refined one. After all, lobster is just a bug.
Lobster Gnocchi Serves 4
2 1.25 pound live lobsters 2 bay leaves 1 tsp whole peppercorns 2 lbs. russet potatoes 11/4 – 1 1/2 lb. all-purpose flour 3 large egg yolks 2 1/2 tbsp salt 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped Zest of two lemons 1 tsp chili flakes 2 cups heavy cream 2 large portabella mushrooms, roasted and sliced into thin strips 2 tbsp olive oil Salt to taste
Lobster In a deep stockpot, combine two gallons water, four cups white wine, two halved lemons, bay leaves, peppercorns and a pinch of salt. Bring water mixture to a boil, place lobsters in the water and set a timer for 11 minutes. While the lobster is cooking, combine one gallon of cold water with four cups of ice in a large bowl. Once the lobsters are done cooking, place them in the ice bath to stop the cooking process. After the lobsters have cooled, using a mallet or your knife, begin to remove the meat from its shell. Cut the meat into small pieces and place in the fridge.
Gnocchi Boil the potatoes until they are cooked through. Remove from the water and, while hot, scoop out the insides and push through a ricer. While still hot, form a well in the potatoes and begin to mix in the flour and eggs slowly until just combined. Be very careful not overwork your dough as this will make the gnocchi chewy and dense. The finished dough should be well incorporated and slightly sticky, add small amounts of flour if needed. Roll the dough into a ball an pull off a small amount. Roll this into a long “snake” and cut into one-inch pieces. Shape each piece by rolling it on the back of a fork to create the classic gnocchi shape. Poach the gnocchi in salted boiling water until it floats.
Portabella mushrooms Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the stems and gently wipe the caps clean. Lightly oil a baking pan and use the remaining olive oil to rub on the caps. Salt and pepper the mushrooms and place gill side up in the baking pan. Roast for 10 minutes and then turn and roast for another 15. The mushrooms are done when they are tender and browned. Let sit for a few minutes before slicing.
To create the dish In a large sauté pan, begin by adding the cream, four cups cooked gnocchi, dill, lemon zest and chili flake. Bring this to a simmer and reduce the cream by about half. Next, add the cooked lobster meat to the pan along with the portabella and heat until warmed through. Lightly toss the pan to incorporate the ingredients. Garnish with a sprig of dill. Serve in a bowl with crusty bread.
Meet the Chef
When 15-year-old Bill Glover knocked on the back door of the local mom-and-pop diner, he had no idea if he would get a job, all he knew is that he was tired of tossing papers up and down the street.
“This guy named Dan, the owner, answered and I said can I work here? I’ve been around restaurants, my grandma’s a chef and I ran around her restaurant as a kid … and I got the job,” he smiled. “They let me do dishes on the weekend. About got fired a few times because I’d have a stack up to here and I couldn’t figure out why, I just didn’t get it and Dan’s wife would come around the corner and sigh and bail me out again … but those few bailouts were really training, I watched and realized the things she was doing to be more efficient.”
Glover continued, easing into his story, enthusiasm mixed with nostalgia, “I got to the point that I was very proficient doing dishes so I started asking, ‘Hey, can I cook? Hey, do you need anything done?’ Dan put his knife down and said, ‘Dice these tomatoes.’ I picked up the knife, grabbed a tomato and I cut my thumb. First time and I blew my thumb open, and I’m like, ‘Aww shit, why did I do that? Dan says, ‘Why didn’t you finish the tomatoes? and I’m, like, ‘Oh, I had some stuff.’ His wife made me take the bandage off and look at it. She said, ‘You need to go back to the dishes.’ Dan got shit, ‘Why are you letting a 15-year-old near a knife? His mom’s going to kill me!’”
“That was my first kitchen job. Ironically, when I opened Sage, this is 20 years later, Dan had bought a house that backed up to my parents’ yard and right before I opened Sage, he was over and he said, I can’t believe you are still doing this … I almost let you go. I’m sure I deserved it. He was just telling me how I was totally crazy for opening a restaurant and good luck. It was a really neat kind of moment for me – I’m standing in front of the guy that I knocked on his door all those years ago. That was a neat circle around. And five years later, now I am here at the Hilton. Pretty cool how the world works through itself.”
As Glover flips through the memory timeline in his brain, the ubër-clean, airplane hanger-like kitchen at the Hilton is awash with activity. White-clad workers walk pass, pineapples piled high on their carts, the sound of a whisk against stainless steel providing a soundtrack to the evening’s prep.
The silence contrasts the loud family meals of Glover’s youth. The tradition of family breaking bread together informs his love of providing delicious food for guests, as does his mother’s emphasis on respecting the ingredients. “There was always a strong focus on waste – ‘take what you want, but eat what you take’ was her mantra,” he explained. “Respect the food, respect the ingredients…I was taught that’s not just a carrot – somebody planted that seed, watered that seed, tendered that crop, picked it, washed it, packed it, drove it to you, and as a cook, you better knock it out of the park…you better make sure that that carrot gets the respect it deserves and be the carrot it needs to be.”
At both of his restaurants, Sage and Gallerie Bar & Bistro , Glover personally shakes the hands of the farmers and food providers when he can. “I mean, that’s awesome. It’s a relationship you form through work and support of each other – it’s a trust you build and it’s something that is infectious across the nation for good reason. A big part of this place is to really embody the farm to table thing and a big reason why I was brought into this project to start my second restaurant was the fact that I do bring that philosophy and it helps break down that hotel/restaurant stereotype. I really believe in our team to be able to do that, front to back.”
The creativity and the people Glover has met on his journey form the foundation of his love of cooking. “You can meet so many walks of life and the diversity that this business gives you is amazing and over the years, going from dishwasher to line cook to sous chef to executive chef, I’ve just realized all these people I’ve worked for, and with, have formed who I am – my style, the way I cook, the way I manage, are all somehow touched upon by every single person – I am a huge believer in the team ideal; chefs are the ones people write about, whether it’s good or bad so we own it both ways, but I always make sure that it’s referenced as a team thing – no chef would be successful without a good team.”
As the clock spins, the acolyte becomes the master and Glover takes pride in sliding into the role of mentor. “I really enjoy giving back and teaching people the craft and working ’em and kicking them out of the nest and saying go make me proud – that’s an important part of the cycle.” And it all starts with a knock on the back door.
Slideshow: Columbus hotel suites fit for a presidentFebruary 25, 2013
Slideshow: Columbus hotel suites fit for a president
Photographer- Business First
When VIPs visit Columbus, hoteliers expect they’ll be looking for the best rooms. At downtown hotels, at least, there is a variety to pick from among the most prestigious suites available.
What do these rooms look like? How big are they? What makes them special? I took a few weeks recently to find out.
The downtown rooms I photographed – I didn’t venture into the suburbs – are sometimes referred to as presidential suites. Indeed, since its opening in 1897, the hotel that is now the Westin Columbus has regularly drawn a presidential stay to its two top suites except for a period in the 1980s, when the hotel was undergoing renovations.
The city’s newest hotel, the Hilton Columbus Downtown, saw President Barack Obama become the first White House guest at its presidential suite last October for an overnight stay during a campaign trip.
I captured a series of images at seven big downtown hotels – Crowne Plaza, Hilton Columbus Downtown, Hyatt Regency, The Lofts, Renaissance Columbus Downtown, Sheraton Columbus at Capitol Square and Westin Columbus – looking at what to expect from their top suites, including what a visitor might find in the thread count of their bed sheets, the square footage and the nightly rack rate – the full price for the room without prior booking arrangements. Prices will vary with each situation, hoteliers said.
Click on each hotel to see a slideshow of their presidential suites, presented in alphabetical order.
Hilton Columbus Downtown
Renaissance Columbus Downtown
Sheraton Columbus at Capitol Square
Running a hotel requires a meticulous eyeJanuary 3, 2013
Running a hotel requires a meticulous eye
Posted by Stephanie Wharton at 12:00 AM on Thursday, January 3 2013
In the year and a half I’ve been a hotel journalist, I covered almost every topic in the industry: marketing, revenue management, financing, construction and companies’ earnings, just to name a few. I thought I had covered something in every aspect of the industry—that is, until December, when I shadowed some of the staff of the Hilton Columbus Downtown.
I realized then that while interviewing sources had helped me acquire extensive knowledge about what hotel staffs do, I had little knowledge about the specific attributes required to properly run a large full-service hotel. I was given the opportunity during my two-day stay at the recently-opened Hilton Columbus to sit in during the team’s weekly operations meeting, as well as a revenue management meeting, which turned out to be a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience.
Within the first five minutes of the team’s operations meeting, I was taken aback by the meticulous attention to detail from everyone in the room. No stone was left unturned by GM Chris Coffin and his group.
After pushing to open in October 2012 to fulfill contracts with groups that had booked, the team still is working on putting some finishing touches on a number of guestrooms and public spaces.
“(We’re) making sure every detail in the rooms are perfect,” Coffin said. Down to floors and specific room numbers, Coffin and his team went over everything.
But it went beyond that. The staff touched upon every single factor that affects the guest experience—from the lobby bar to parking to greeting guests upon arrival.
In a world where consumers have the ability to share their thoughts (whether positive or negative) on social media sites, there’s no other option but to produce perfection to remain competitive. I’m sure this is apparent to most in the industry by now, but seeing a team going over guest reviews and satisfaction scores firsthand to help strategize only helped enforce that notion.
During the revenue-management meeting, the Hilton Columbus Downtown team went over a handful of data reports to help them compare how they are performing against the rest of the market.
Coffin pointed out that because the hotel recently opened, it takes the group several hours to analyze six months worth of forward-looking data. “The main problem is we don’t have a history; we don’t have a pattern,” he said.
This makes it difficult to determine the revenue-management strategy, Coffin said.
Trial and error is a major strategy. Each week the team analyzes what worked and what didn’t work and uses their best judgment moving forward.
There’s a lot of discussion, Coffin said, adding: “It’s a lot more discussion than a mature hotel that has it down.”
The main takeaway I took away from this visit is how much time hotel staffs put into their work.
Learning that running a full-service hotel requires 10- to 14-hour workdays on a regular basis gave me a newfound appreciation for those who work in the industry. It’s not something just anyone can do with a smile on their face, and it hit me—that’s the meaning of hospitality.
Editor’s note: Hilton provided hotel accommodations for a one-night stay. Complete editorial control was at the discretion of the HotelNewsNow.com editorial team; Hilton had no influence of the coverage provided.
Most Interesting Career Move: Bill Glover To GallerieJanuary 2013
Most Interesting Career Move: Bill Glover To Gallerie
With Gallerie at the new Hilton, Sage’s chef expands his restaurant empire to two
This article appears in the January 2013 issue of Columbus Monthly
You’d never know it from talking to him, but Bill Glover is under a lot of pressure.
Not only is he still at the helm of one of the city’s best restaurants, Sage American Bistro, he’s breaking this city’s resistance to hotel dining with his airy-yet-refined spot Gallerie inside the new Hilton on High Street.
But sit down with him as we did—catch him in a rare break from the nearly 90 hours he puts in each week planning galas, filling catering orders and running dinner service at Gallerie while still maintaining close contact with the staff at Sage—and he’s practically sedate.
“The first chef I worked for told me, ‘You need to calm down,’ and I learned to do it early on,” Glover says. “Results are more important than flying around like a chicken with your head cut off.”
Here’s more insight from Columbus’ calmest chef.
On how he got the job:
I was eating dinner at the bar at Sage one night, and I noticed a guy at the bar eating dinner that I hadn’t seen before, so I introduced myself and asked him what he thought of the food. He said, “I want another one of these to go.”
It turned out to be (Hilton general manager) Chris Coffin, and he told me about the hotel and his plans for the restaurant. I asked him if he had a chef in mind. He said they didn’t, and I said I’d be willing to help him think of ideas.
The following Sunday, he came in for brunch and invited me to do a walk-through of the construction site with him, and then the opportunity with Gallerie presented itself. I talked it over with my staff at Sage, and they were all on board, and I took the job starting July 9.
On the food:
I approached the menu at Gallerie the same way I approached Sage—lots of Ohio products, farm-to-table. I actually put a huge list at the top of the menu of every farm I used.
On beating the “hotel restaurant” stigma:
In Europe, all the best restaurants are in hotels. In America, there’s a stigma. In cities like New York and Las Vegas, hotels will go out and get a big name that breaks down the stigma, but it’s still in a hotel and that can be a deal breaker for some people.
Hilton could’ve easily brought in someone with hotel experience, someone from a hotel in maybe Chicago, and he could be a great chef. But here, he’d be a no-name. I’ve worked hard to build a reputation in Columbus, and I think that will bring people in.
On his goals:
I want to have two of the best restaurants in Columbus. My goal when I opened Sage was the same, for it to be one of the best in the city. I want it to be like bookends on High Street—Sage in the north and Gallerie on the south end.
Glover’s most famous patron so far?
President Barack Obama, who spent the night in the Hilton during a November campaign stop. He ordered chips and salsa, eggs and turkey sausage—but to be able to prepare those for the president, Glover had to undergo a background check and be under constant supervision by Obama’s personal chef.
Eating at Gallerie? These dishes are must-orders.
Bistro Salad ($11) Gallerie’s house salad is one of the best in town—a bed of frisee topped with tangy pickled red onions, crispy lardons and champagne vinaigrette. On top is a poached egg; break it, swirl the yolk around and the result is basically magic.
Duck Duet ($24) Roasted duck breast is too often bland and underwhelming. Glover’s preparation is masterful—a quick-seared breast paired with crisp-skinned yet gloriously tender confit leg and thigh.
Bistro-nomical: Upscale Hilton restaurant takes traditional fare to soaring new heightsDecember 1, 2012
Link to article: http://614columbus.com/article/bistro-nomical-5607/
Upscale Hilton restaurant takes traditional fare to soaring new heights
By Kimberly Stolz
A great hotel provides an oasis in the vast desert of life, whether indulging in a weekend staycation or pampering the palate at the on-site restaurant. From the doorman to the dining to the décor, the sparkly new downtown Columbus Hilton is a beckoning haven on bustling High Street. Taking inspiration from local artists, meeting rooms and ballrooms bear such names as George Bellows, Elijah Pierce, and Alice Schille. The rugs throughout the hotel look like the floor of an artist’s studio, with splashes and drops of muted color. Works by Roger Williams, Levent Isik, and Adam Broulliette add color to the white, slate and wood tones of the impressive edifice.
The Galerie Bar & Bistro restaurant sits in an open cube within the nine-story atrium, providing an expansive atmosphere of openness. Long white banquettes, black chairs, and light wood farmhouse tables reflect the menu in the sense that chef Bill Glover has taken bistro classics – originally French peasant food – and rebooted them in clever, modern, and irresistible ways. Each plate is its own work of art, from conception to presentation.
Galerie is a place where the entire staff is proud of the dining experience. Servers, bussers, managers – all walk around like peacocks, their tails brilliant with food tips and educated asides. When waffling between appetizers, the young man refilling our water glasses asked permission, the classy “If I may … ,” before giving a soaring recommendation for the bone marrow. Our server had an extraordinary depth of menu erudition, but our discussion never felt like a lecture, more like a tour guide to a magical land of cuisine capers.
Perusing the appetizer section is like letting your fingers do the walking down a sui generis boulevard. All signs point to the decadent, the delicious, and the daring, evidenced by the use of such singular ingredients as escargot, fois gras, sweetbreads, charcuterie, and steak tartare. Trusting the staff suggestions, two beautiful plates arrived at the table with subtle flourish – a rectangular service of scallop and foie gras ($16) and the aforementioned prehistoric-looking portion of bone marrow ($14).
The scallop sat daintily, its lightly seared flesh innocent in its slight give and milky hue, underneath a hat of darkly seared fat decorated with brilliant ribbons of red pepper marmalade. A swath of sherry aioli and a brushstroke of balsamic reduction added both a linear visual element and an echo of acid to round out the dish. The foie gras, an indulgent celebration of rich umami, works in tasteful tandem with the sweet shellfish.
The bone marrow, presented as three bovine bones split and roasted, looks like a meal stolen from the dressing room of Fred Flintstone. Instead of the typical parsley pairing, an ebullient green salad of arugula and capers, lightly bathed in a lemonette dressing, adds visual flair to the bony bites. Bone marrow is the soft gelatinous tissue found inside bones and is dense monounsaturated fat – yes, the kind that helps lower cholesterol. When roasted, it becomes spreadable and concentrated with a rich beef flavor, a texture like a savory curd. When spread on the grilled bread and enhanced by the accompanying bacon-braised red onions, words fail as eyes roll and, involuntarily, soft groans escape. I mean – wow – I hope you’re ready for this jelly.
Galerie also tips its toque to the famous brothy bowls of mussels that are a mainstay of French bistros. The dark bivalves are awash in myriad flavors representing different regions of France – from the traditional white wine and shallot preparation of Marinaire to the sun-kissed Billi Bi (all mussel dishes, $18), layered with cream, saffron and vermouth. Per tradition, the fruit de mer is served with frites to soak up each drop of the liquid gold.
Main dishes are seasonally appropriate, with choices of slow cooked meats from rabbit to pork belly, and are destined to radiate warmth from table to tummy. A veal shank ($29) gets the braising treatment to break down the collagen and create a yielding cut of moist meat. A tweak of the meat-and-potatoes trope, this shank is served on an island of Yukon gold hash topped with a grassy knoll of shaved Brussels sprouts adrift in a pool of balsamic red wine jus. The delicate beefy taste of veal is made more robust by this preparation and the Brussels add a contrasting crunch.
The duck duet ($24) sings the praises of the waterfowl through a harmonious meeting of seared breast and confit of leg and thigh. If the breast is like a haughty high note, the confit is the funky base that drives the dish: all crisp skin and salty succulence. The surprising riff here is the chorus of crispy chive dumplings and brightness of haricot verts. Red cabbage marmalade looks like shards of ruby stained glass against the refrain of the tan confit skin.
Desserts are gorgeous and tame in their sweetness. The ginger crème brulee ($6) is creamy and lovely, the slightly astringent ginger forcing your eyes wide with delight. Roasting the grape garnish concentrates the flavor of the small orbs, a perfect burst of fruit amid the brulee. Chocolate hounds will lap up the chocolate torte ($7), an addictive conversation between white chocolate mouse and ganache, with punctuation provided by salty caramel and coconut ice cream.
Galerie Bar & Bistro represents a new vision for Hilton restaurants – a destination eatery within destination accommodations.
Galerie Bar & Bistro
401 N High St.
Duck Duet at GallerieNovember 29, 2012
Duck Duet at Gallerie
Posted by Shelley Mann on November 29, 2012
A few weeks after my excellent lobster roll lunch at Gallerie, the new restaurant at the Downtown Hilton, I made it back for dinner and continued to be impressed by the quality of food. Two dishes stood out in particular--this fantastic Duck Duet and the Bistro Salad, one of the best house salads in town.
So, the duck. Duck is featured on many an upscale menu, but generally it's a roasted breast sliced into little ovals, drizzled in some sort of sauce. Decent but underwhelming. Chef Bill Glover takes a different approach here, pairing a few pieces of juicy seared breast with an amazingly tender confit leg/thigh. The crackly-skinned leg is far and away the best duck preparation I've had in Columbus. And that glistening red tangle on top? That's red cabbage marmalade--and it'll change the way you think about cabbage forever. It's so sticky-sweet I kept forgetting I was eating something that started its life as a vegetable.
Also, you must order the Bistro Salad before any meal. I'm somewhat of a salad fanatic; my boyfriend not so much. I've never seen him get this excited about vegetables. It probably helps that it's a classic frisee salad, which means it's topped with bacony lardons and a poached egg.
Gallerie at the Hilton
401 N. High St., Short North
Hilton Hotel Celebrates Grand OpeningNovember 17, 2012
November 17, 2012
By Nadia Bashir
Link to video:
The Hilton Hotel in downtown Columbus held its official grand opening tonight.
The hotel is expected to boost small businesses in the Short North as well as the arts community.
"This hotel is by the city for the city. This is an economic engine done by Franklin County and the City of Columbus to bring new business to town," said General Manager Christian Coffin.
At tonight's grand opening there was also "living art" from ballerinas, dancers and trapeze artists hanging from the ceiling.
In addition to more than 500 rooms, according to Coffin the Hilton features more than 200 pieces of art work from local artists. Additionally the art has a code located next to it which visitors can scan with their smart phone to find out more about the artist.
Joan Zeller is among the local artists commissioned by the Hilton for her art work.
"I felt so honored to be a part of an amazing collection. Because I'm very familiar with the artists they've chosen. They've made some excellent choices," Zeller said.
And as for bringing more business to the Short North, Zeller says there is no doubt in her mind the Hilton will do so.
"The amount of traffic we get from people who are at the Convention Center who are staying at hotels downtown is just remarkable. And I'm sure as their doors open and people stay there that will only increase our traffic here," Zeller said.
First Look: The Hilton Downtown ColumbusNovember 12, 2012
First Look: The Hilton Downtown Columbus
By: Walker Evans
November 12, 2012
The new 532-room Hilton Columbus Downtown hotel officially opened on October 19th, and has seen a flurry of activity in its inaugural weeks since then. It hosted this year’s CMH Fashion Week event, was ground zero for the local Democratic watch party on election night, and even accommodated President Obama during one of his many Columbus visits prior to his re-election victory.
Located adjacent to the Greater Columbus Convention Center, the new 14-story $140-million hotel is the visual new centerpiece on High Street that anchors the north end of Downtown, the Arena District and the Short North. With the North Market located around the corner, and Park Street nightlife only a block away, there’s a new level of energy rippling from the hotel to its surrounding neighbors.
Inside, a grand design echoes throughout the wide-open atrium that provides skylit views down into the restaurant and lobby spaces below. Sleek modern hallways and guest rooms are punctuated with over 225 pieces of local artwork from 135 local artists. Amenities include an indoor pool with a High Street view, fitness facility and 32,000 square feet of meeting and conference space connected to the Convention Center.
We were recently provided with a tour of the hotel’s facilities, rooms, kitchens, lobbies and more. Photos from the tour can be found below.
Click here to read more about the Gallerie Bar & Bistro located on the second floor of the hotel.
More information can be found online at www.hilton.com.
Gallerie Bar & Bistro Brings French Dining to Downtown ColumbusNovember 12, 2012
Gallerie Bar & Bistro Brings French Dining to Downtown Columbus
By: Walker Evans
It’s only been open for three weeks, but the Gallerie Bar & Bistro at the new Downtown Hilton Hotel can already claim something that few other local restaurant can: it has served the President of the United States.
“Obama stayed here last week and I got to cook him breakfast, which was very cool,” says Gallerie Executive Chef Bill Glover. “He got in really late at night around 2am and requested chips and salsa. For breakfast he ordered three eggs over medium and turkey sausage.”
Regular citizens have been enjoying the menu at Gallerie over the past three weeks as well. Both overnight guests and locals have visited the hotel’s multiple dining spaces, which includes the main restaurant in the atrium, the bar overlooking High Street, a private dining room that seats 50, and a grand ballroom that can hold up to 2000 guests at once.
“I’m recognizing a lot of local faces at the restaurant, which is great,” said Glover, who is also owner of Sage American Bistro in the Old North Columbus neighborhood. “We came into this knowing that Gallerie has two strikes against it with local diners, as we don’t have street access, and we’re located inside a hotel. So we have to break down those concerns and stereotypes that some people have.”
For those who have yet to venture into Gallerie, it’s located on the second floor atop a grand spiral staircase leading up from the main lobby. The atrium of the hotel is open to all twelve floors providing a unique open-air feel at the 160-seat restaurant, which is artfully designed with a recurring trellis grid pattern throughout.
The Gallerie Bar is located adjacent to the restaurant with a more casual, yet refined decor. Dark woods, subway tiles and classic cafe-style bentwood chairs compliment a space designed to enjoy a glycol-chilled beer or a late night small plate while overlooking the view down to High Street.
Glover has crafted a French Bistro menu at Gallerie that includes Escargot, Bone Marrow, Steak Tartar, Rabbit Pappardelle and Fresh Oysters, just to name a few items. There’s also an extensive wine list, charcuterie and cheese boards, and desserts all made in-house.
“I approached the menu much in the same vein as Sage,” said Glover. “I met with around 30 local farmers first, and developed the menu from there. We have all of our farmers and purveyors proudly printed on the back of our menu.”
Customer favorites so far include the Blackberry Scallop dish that was borrowed from Sage. Foie Gras is also popular on the menu, served as an appetizer with scallops or as a dessert with crème brûlée french toast and house-made marshmallow. Glover is also proud of the made-from-scratch baguette, because he says that it is uncommon for hotels to make their own breads.
The process of setting up an industrial-sized kitchen to service the new restaurant, banquet halls, conference rooms and room service dining has cost him a lot of long 90-hour weeks lately, but Glover is pleased with the results thus far.
“I couldn’t be happier to be a part of the dining scene in this city,” he said. “I see Gallerie as my own south bookend and Sage as my north bookend, and we’ve got a lot of good people doing cool things in between.”
More information can be found online at www.hilton.com.
Behind the Scenes: Local art at the HiltonNovember 8, 2012
Behind the Scenes: Local art at the Hilton
By Jackie Mantey
From the November 8, 2012 edition
The new Hilton Hotel across from the Convention Center opened its motion-sensor revolving doors a few weeks ago. So striking are the fancy features at the 532-room hotel, this equally impressive fact flies under the radar: This huge brand paid to use local artwork in the new downtown Hilton.
Work by 128 central Ohio artists hang in the Hilton. The collection is worth more than $600,000 and includes art by internationally recognized Ohioans Aminah Robinson and Sid Chafetz and fledgling artists like recent CCAD grad Taylor Hawkins.
“I read that Ann Hamilton has a piece in it,” Hawkins said. “It’s quite an honor to be among such an established and well-known artist.”
Longtime Columbus arts patron Michael Reese worked as Hilton’s art consultant and was on the board of local arts leaders who suggested the pieces in the collection. Several groups involved with the construction and design of the hotel had to approve each piece — a process that made curating it challenging.
“It had to be nothing political, nothing crude, nothing religious,” Reese said.
Reese also decided where each of the 225 pieces worked best in the design of the hotel. There’s art everywhere — Adam Brouillette’s in the bar, Robert Metzger’s in the bathroom, Mark Yale Harris is by the pool.
Uniquely, each guest room also has a print of a local painting on the ceiling above the bed. For these Reese picked abstract paintings that were visually interesting but soothing.
The Hilton shows off the area’s new stars and historically important — who, by the way, are the namesakes of the hotel’s halls and meeting rooms (think George Bellows and Alice Schille) — in a way that is an art itself.
“Accepting [my artwork],” Hawkins said, “should make the public aware that there are really young talented artists in Columbus that have not gone on to the bigger cities, but have stayed and are trying to make the art community stronger.”
You can see how Hilton has helped that community flex its muscles — much of the collection is available for perusal without getting a room.
Hilton Columbus Downtown Announces OpeningOctober 19,. 2012
Hilton Columbus Downtown Announces Opening
532-Room Property is Situated in the Center of the City's Popular Neighborhoods
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Today Hilton Hotels & Resorts announces the official opening of Hilton Columbus Downtown, poised to be a top destination in the heart of the city. The 532-room property is located at 401 North High Street, conveniently positioned in the center of the city's most admired neighborhoods, including the Short North Arts District and the Arena District.
"Today is a significant milestone in the longstanding relationship between Hilton Hotels & Resorts, the City of Columbus and our distinguished business partners involved in this monumental project," said Major Michael B. Coleman. "Hilton Columbus Downtown will attract millions of new visitors and make Columbus a best-in-class destination for national conventions and events."
The $140-million convention center hotel features a large atrium in the lobby with skylights to give an indoor-outdoor feel. As part of the Hilton brand's commitment to sustainability, the property is designed to attain both LEED and Green Seal Certifications from the U.S. Green Building Council.
"Hilton Hotels & Resorts values its partnership with the City of Columbus and Franklin County," said Dave Horton, global head, Hilton Hotels & Resorts. "This area is a growing center of tourism and events in Central Ohio. The opening of Hilton Columbus Downtown is an important and exciting addition to the Hilton family of properties."
The hotel includes 48 suites and 31,000-square-feet of meeting and banquet space connected by a pedestrian skybridge to the 1.7 million- square-feet of meeting space in the Greater Columbus Convention Center. The 380,000-pound skybridge stretches across North High Street and is designed with a glass walking surface.
"The new, full-service convention hotel significantly enhances our convention package and allows Columbus to compete for a larger share of the state, regional and national convention, meeting and tradeshow market and sporting events," said Brian Ross, vice president of sales, Experience Columbus.
"We are thrilled about the opening of Hilton Columbus Downtown in the heart of Columbus, Ohio's dynamic capital city," said Bill Jennison, executive director, Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority. "The hospitality industry represents 60,000 jobs in Franklin County and has a considerable economic impact that we want to continue to grow year after year. The on-time and on-budget completion of Hilton Columbus Downtown will help us do just that."
"The opening of this grand hotel puts more Franklin County residents to work and exemplifies the public-private partnerships we have invested in to create new jobs and economic opportunity," said Franklin County Commissioner President Paula Brooks. "Having this hotel in our community's portfolio adds to our vital tourism industry, which already brings in more than $7.2 billion annually to our county and reduces the tax burden of every Franklin County family by an average of $1,900."
Hilton Columbus Downtown celebrates the diversity of talent, imagination and soul of the local community. The rich history of the Columbus arts community is the focal point of the hotel, which features a collection of more than 225 original art pieces as well as paintings, sculpture and photographs from more than 128 local artists. The art is displayed throughout the property and on the ceilings in each guest room, including Sue Cavanuagh's piece titled, "Ori-kume #17." Alice Schille's piece titled, "Sea and Tidle River," which adorns one of the Deluxe suites is a reproduction of the original found in the Columbus Museum of Art. Guests also will notice the beautiful original oil painting titled, "Landscape," by Rick Akers as they enter the fourth floor elevator lobby as well as additional artwork by talented artists such as Donald Roberts, Aminah Robinson and many more displayed throughout the 13 floors in Hilton Columbus Downtown.
"Situated in the center of the arts, entertainment, and business districts, Hilton Columbus Downtown reflects the creative spirit and energy of Ohio's capital city," said Christian Coffin, general manager, Hilton Columbus Downtown. "The property features a sleek and contemporary look, and offers the perfect combination of comfort, convenience and affordability, setting the tone for guests' and visitors' expectations."
Bill Glover, executive chef, heads up a full-service dining facility that stands out among the hotels and restaurants in the area. The Gallerie Bar & Bistro, a French bistro-inspired restaurant, celebrates the bounty of Ohio agriculture by incorporating fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and products in both the food and beverage offerings to create a one-of-a-kind culinary experience for guests and visitors.
For hotel reservations, please visit columbusdowntown.hilton.com Media can access additional information about Hilton Columbus Downtown at http://news.hilton.com/columbusdowntown.
About Hilton Columbus Downtown
Hilton Columbus Downtown features 532 guest rooms, including 48 suites, and 31,000 square feet of meeting and pre-function space. A glass skybridge connects the hotel with the Greater Columbus Convention Center, which offers more than 1.7 million square feet of meeting space. In addition, the full-service dining facility, Gallerie Bar & Bistro, showcases the hotel's contemporary, upscale décor and a menu with an emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients. The hotel's brilliant, glass-enclosed exterior displays an art collection featuring more than 225 original works from more than 128 artists from in and around Central Ohio. For additional information, please call +1 614 384 8604 or visit www.hilton.com.
Hotel's skywalk to convention center will go up SaturdayAugust 23, 2012
August 23, 2012
The Columbus Dispatch
By Steve Wartenberg
For several weeks, a rather large and unusual steel-and-glass structure has been taking shape in front of the new Hilton Columbus Downtown.
Many passers-by have stopped, stared and wondered: “What the heck is that?”
This question will be answered Saturday, as two cranes lift the 105-foot-long pedestrian skywalk into place, securing one end to the hotel and the other to the Greater Columbus Convention Center across N. High Street.
“It’s very unique, one-of-a-kind ... and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the look of Downtown Columbus,” said Jason Rhodebeck, a project manager with Turner Construction. Turner and Smoot Construction are the construction managers for the 532-room hotel, which is scheduled to open in October.
The design of the ultramodern skywalk features a 48-inch-diameter, weight-bearing steel pipe — or spine — running its length. Steel ribs hang from the spine, forming the sides and floor of the elevated pedestrian bridge.
“I’m not aware of another structure like this ... that puts the tube structure, or spine, overhead and then hangs all the ribs from it,” said Todd Halamka, director of design for the Chicago office of HOK, the architectural firm that designed the skywalk.
The steel beam was manufactured in Turkey, the ribs and glass on the sides of the skywalk in Germany, and the opaque floor glass in Spain, Rhodebeck said.
And, he said, all the pieces of the 380,000-pound structure must — and have — fit together perfectly as they were assembled in front of the hotel. The subcontractor for the skywalk is Roschmann Steel & Glass Construction, a German company that has an office in Connecticut.
On Friday evening, N. High Street will be closed to traffic in front of the hotel, and two 550-ton cranes will be brought in. The next morning, the cranes will lift the skywalk and ever so gently move it into place.
“It requires a lot of skill and coordination among the two crews,” Rhodebeck said.
The Hilton was designed with an opening for the bridge, but the convention center was not, so an opening had to be carved into the side of the building.
“It was an existing facade, so it was tricky,” Rhodebeck said. “We had to cut through brick, precast concrete and stucco.”
Halamka said he had specific goals in mind when designing the skywalk.
“Columbus has a history of pedestrian bridges and arches, and we wanted to continue the natural rhythm of the arches (in the Short North).”
Another goal was to move away from the more brawny design of the skywalks farther south on High Street and create something “lighter and more open.”
“Much like the convention center did in its time and place, we want to give a special moment to the city,” Halamka said.
The final goal is for the skywalk to serve as a connector or gateway between the Short North to the north and Downtown to the south.
Local architect Michael Bongiorno thinks Halamka has accomplished his goals, but he has some issues with the design.
“I like the bridge on its own, and I like the hotel, but I don’t know if I like them together,” said Bongiorno, who is with DesignGroup.
The $140 million, 14-story hotel has a more traditional brick facade on the lower levels, with a combination of a brick and glass exterior on the upper floors.
Bongiorno is also concerned that a skywalk will reduce foot traffic on N. High Street.
“But, I understand it’s designed to service conventiongoers, and move a lot of people across High Street without them having to put on coats or take an umbrella with them,” he said.
Despite his concerns, Bongiorno thinks the skywalk could become an iconic piece of Columbus architecture.
“It has a quality about it, a very lacy and spinelike quality,” he said.
Two Local Culinary Experts Join Hilton Columbus Downtown TeamJuly 13, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio - July 13, 2012 - Hilton Columbus Downtown, opening this fall, is pleased to announce the hiring of two culinary experts from the Columbus food scene to manage all food and beverage operations. With nearly three decades of combined experience, William “Bill” Glover, executive chef, and Michael Mejia, director of food and beverage, are set to redefine hospitality and bring unparalleled food and beverage experiences to Hilton Columbus Downtown.
Mejia, former general manager at Martini Modern Italian, and Glover, executive chef and owner of Sage American Bistro, will hit the ground running in an effort to make the hotel’s Gallerie Bar & Bistro a destination restaurant—a step toward changing the perception of hotel dining.
“Michael and Bill both bring prestige and experience to Hilton Columbus Downtown, in addition to their strong commitment to incorporating locally-sourced products that celebrate the bounty of Ohio agriculture—a pivotal focus for the hotel,” said Christian Coffin, general manager, Hilton Columbus Downtown. “Their reputations and experience immediately set the tone for guests’ expectations, providing a dining experience unlike any other they’ve had at a hotel.”
With more than 15 years of experience, Glover is regarded as an expert in creating unforgettable flavors, with cuisines ranging from Asian to Italian. Glover will retain ownership
of Sage American Bistro, the success of which has allowed him to turn over the day-to-day
operations at Sage and focus his creative attention on this next venture. By joining the team
at Hilton Columbus Downtown, Glover has yet another platform to offer Columbus an exciting culinary destination.
“We are eager to get this project off the ground, as we develop a custom menu from scratch
for Gallerie Bar & Bistro, which is unique compared to many hotel restaurants,” said Glover.
“It’s a thrilling time for us as we create numerous menu items with fresh, locally-sourced
food, vendors and products.”
Mejia has more than 14 years of experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry, with eight of those years as a general manager and three years as assistant general manager. He is intricately involved in the Columbus Food and Wine Affair and the Central Ohio Restaurant Association. In addition to working with Glover on the vision for Gallerie Bar & Bistro, Mejia and Glover will oversee Hilton Columbus Downtown banquet and room service operations.
“I’m looking forward to the grand opening this fall when guests, Columbus residents and tourists can see firsthand why Hilton Columbus Downtown and Gallerie Bar & Bistro will stand out amongst the hotels and restaurants in the area,” said Mejia. “We will set the tone that hotels aren’t just a place to stay for the night, but a destination for fine cuisine and delicious beverages.”
Media can access additional information about Hilton Columbus Downtown at news.hilton.com/columbusdowntown.
New Hilton hotel to become gallery for central Ohio talentJanuary 26, 2012
January 26, 2012
The Columbus Dispatch
By Jeffrey Sheban
About 160 paintings, sculptures, photographs and other works — representing a veritable who’s who of central Ohio artists living and deceased — are expected to become a big draw at a new Downtown hotel.
Works are being purchased from artists and galleries for the $140 million Hilton Columbus Downtown, opening in the fall on N. High Street in the Short North arts and entertainment district.
And, in a first for the Hilton chain domestically, all of the 532 guest rooms will feature artwork placed on the ceiling directly above the beds.
“People’s eyes light up when you talk about what’s going to be unique about the property,” said Julia Hansen, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing.
“We want to introduce people to Columbus and let them know that art is part of the whole vibe.”
The hotel will be operated by the chain and owned by the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority. With a skywalk over High Street connecting to the Greater Columbus Convention Center, the Hilton will target business travelers and convention–goers.
“I think it’s a very good public-relations move on the part of the Hilton,” said Sid Chafetz, 89, a former art professor at Ohio State University who will have two works displayed — one in the presidential suite, joining seven other prints or paintings and a sculpture.
Bill Jennison, executive director of the facilities authority, said traditional hotel art — bland prints of unknown or undistinguished origins — wasn’t good enough for a marquee property at the gateway to the Short North, home to several of the city’s best-known galleries.
“We didn’t want a bunch of pedestrian seascapes in rooms,” he said.
Jennison said the project’s art budget of about $1 million is no more than would have been spent on more generic offerings. Half the money is going toward purchases, with the balance for framing, transportation, insurance and installation.
About 30 works are being commissioned, but most of the others will be purchased from 12 central Ohio galleries representing more than 100 individual artists. Prices paid for works in the collection range from $125 to $40,800.
Some of the better-known central Ohio artists whose work will be displayed include Queen Brooks, Susan Cavanaugh, Curtis Goldstein, Ann Hamilton, Stephen Pentak, Aminah Robinson and Lowell Tolstedt.
Also on the list are licensed prints from long-gone Columbus greats including George Bellows, Emerson Burkhart, Milton Caniff, Alice Schille and James Thurber. (Hansen said one of Thurber’s iconic dog illustrations was being sought to underscore the pet-friendly nature of the hotel.)
Familiar sites and landmarks around town are depicted in some, although that wasn’t a requirement.
Some notable examples:
• An impressionistic model of the Downtown skyline made of 30,000 crayon tips by Christian Faur of Granville, to be displayed behind the front desk.
• Historical photos of Broad and High streets taken by East Side resident Kojo Kamau, and destined for a public men’s room.
• A colorful rendering of the Smith Brothers Hardware building created by Goldstein, an Upper Arlington painter, and headed for the executive lounge.
“I was really surprised that they were putting original art in the hotel and were asking for Columbus artists,” said Brooks, a retired art instructor at Ohio Dominican University who will have two wooden assemblages placed in the executive lounge.
“I was like ‘Oh, wow, this is really going to be something.’ ”
Jennison said he and his agency’s board pushed to include central Ohio art early on. An art committee was formed last year with members including Jennison; Gina Deary, whose Chicago company Simeone Deary Design Group is the project’s interior designer; Barbara R. Nicholson, former executive director of the King Arts Complex; and Nannette V. Maciejunes, executive director of the Columbus Museum of Art.
Deary worked with central Ohio art consultants and brothers Michael and Jim Reese, who took her to more than a dozen area galleries and recommended individual artists with whom they were familiar. With input from Nicholson and Maciejunes, they compiled an eclectic list that was reviewed and approved by Hilton, one of the world’s leading hospitality brands with 540 properties in 78 countries.
“We wanted to be sure they had a who’s who of Columbus artists,” said Michael Reese, who lives in the Short North and also sells commercial office furniture.
The added challenge was to build a provocative collection that wouldn’t be a turnoff for hotel guests.
“Art for a hotel is much more narrow in scope than art for a corporation or a government facility or your home,” he said. “Art is so subjective, and you have to be careful because some people might read into things they think they see in a painting.”
Other hotels in town have used art to impart local flavor. The Westin Columbus has about 10 Thurber prints in its bar and a dozen paintings of historic Columbus hotels on the mezzanine; the Sheraton Columbus at Capitol Square is undergoing a $10 million renovation that will include photos in all 400 rooms of two boys selling newspapers in front of the Statehouse during the 1930s.
But what Hilton is doing with local art is unprecedented.
“It’s actually more common out west, but pretty much unheard of in Columbus and much of the Midwest,” said Caren Petersen, owner of Muse Gallery in German Village, which is providing works from 10 artists.
“A lot of people will be leaving town saying, ‘There’s this really cool hotel that used local art, and it’s really neat and you should see it.’ ”
Sherrie Gallerie owner Sherrie Riley Hawk — who represents eight artists selling works to the hotel — said Hilton’s nod to the local arts community is bound to enhance Columbus’ image with visitors.
“What a perfect way to tell the story of your city — through art,” she said. “It’s going to be great.”