The new Holiday Inn Owensboro Riverfront has discovered a way to combine exceptional customer service and spectacular cuisine with an inviting design concept that would appeal to any guest. On Thursday, April 2, the new Holiday Inn opened its doors to overnight guests for the first time. This was preceded by an incredibly successful three-day restaurant pre-opening for the Another Broken Egg Cafe. When first stepping into the new hotel, one cannot help but feel welcome. The entire staff is warm and friendly, including general manager Ruth Ann Dearness, who often greets many guests by name. Ruth Ann began her hotel career at the Executive Inn and has been with LinGate Hospitality for twenty-five years.
CEO and founder of LinGate Hospitality, Glenn Higdon says of the initial experience of entering the hotel, “As soon as you hit the front door, it’s so inviting.” Upon entering the lobby, which opens up into the seating area of the Another Broken Egg Cafe, the large pebble columns direct the eye through the dining and outdoor seating area to the view of the riverfront. The warm, copper lighting and earthy tones of the furniture help to bring the relaxing feel of the outdoors in. The lobby walkways feature artwork from local artist David Stratton as well as photography from Adam Paris at AP Imagery. The natural, organic feel carries on into the full service bar, which is made of three, cut pieces of solid cherry-framed with natural stone. This provides guests with an experience that Ruth Ann describes as “the open air feel of a great-room home.”
Commercial interior designer, Mary Higdon, was faced with the challenge of incorporating the Holiday Inn image with the image of Another Broken Egg Cafe, while ensuring that the Another Broken Egg Cafe kept its identity. Mary says that she “felt honored that they trusted me with their designs.” She thought about what design qualities would best suit Owensboro and, along with interior designer Carley Bean, was able to create a very cohesive organic theme throughout the property.
The Holiday Inn itself has something to offer to business, leisure and family travelers alike. Claude Bacon, vice president in charge of administration, sales and e-commerce, feels that the hotel offers “fantastic leisure, but can also provide a riverfront area to entertain business (clients).” The hotel has 133 guest rooms, featuring approximately 15 different room types, including: 10 suites, wheelchair and hearing accessible rooms and 14 rooms with balconies overlooking the Ohio River. The hotel also features a state-of-the-art fitness center with a magnificent view of the river. Those staying for business can utilize the meeting room that accommodates large parties of up to 100 or take advantage of the “board room for more intimate business gatherings.” The large indoor swimming pool is a relaxing amenity for all guests to enjoy. An added benefit for guests traveling with small children is that Another Broken Egg Cafe honors Holiday Inn’s Kids Eat Free policy, with an adult entrée purchase. The Holiday Inn Riverfront is now the only hotel in Owensboro to offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as room service. Mr. Bacon said, when developing another hotel along the riverfront that it was necessary that it be a full-service hotel in order to accommodate the Convention Center and downtown.
When selecting a restaurant for the Holiday Inn, Mary Higdon said that it was important to find one that was the right fit for Owensboro. Upon Mary’s suggestion, Glenn Higdon called the franchise owner of Another Broken Egg Cafe and, after a pleasant conversation, they agreed to the partnership in a “handshake over the phone.” Jeff Blair, chief operating officer of Hoosier Hospitality Group, which owns and operates both Ruth Chris Steak House and Another Broken Egg Cafe, said that the first question they had to ask themselves in preparation of opening the Owensboro location was, “Do we change our style or do we do what we do well?” The restaurant chose to stick with its traditional, yet diverse, menu, which offers “scratch-made items,” such as homemade sausage and homemade granola, as well as gluten-free and vegetarian options. During the complimentary friends and family pre-opening, the restaurant served nearly 700 people in three days. On opening day, which Blair says ranked “in the top 10 openings” of all 46 locations across the country, the restaurant served over four hundred. Diners were able to indulge in many appetizing treats, including the light and fluffy Southern-style biscuit beignets with homemade marmalade sauce, the Cajun-inspired fried green tomatoes, the signature benedicts, and one-of-a-kind bloody marys. It is also part of the Another Broken Egg Cafe business model to be active within the community and to support local charities. Blair said they prefer to buy local honey and produce, donate to local food banks and to be out in the community shaking hands and serving food, versus making monetary donations.
Beyond the welcoming décor and the fantastic dining experience, what sets this hotel and LinGate Hospitality apart from the others is the family feel of the company. Glenn and Mary Higdon seem to have found the perfect marriage of hotel development and design. The fact that their two sons, Alex and Joshua, work in the hospitality business, coupled with the long tenure of their employees, speaks to the character and quality of the organization. The employees are so dedicated, in fact, that the Wednesday afternoon prior to the Thursday opening, the corporate staff and accounting department closed the office early to dust, vacuum, and make beds in order to ensure a successful first day for the hotel.
The establishment of the new 16.5 million-dollar hotel and restaurant has also created nearly 100 jobs and employment opportunities for people in and around the community. Bacon said that the announcement of the completion of the Bluegrass Museum “was huge for us” because it will attract “worldwide guests when they visit Owensboro” and we have a “first class facility to provide just that.” Ruth Ann added that the “tourism dollars for the community will have a positive impact on the economy.” The new Holiday Inn is a welcome addition to Owensboro because, as Bacon said, “there is nothing offered on the riverfront like it.”