Standing along Pine Street in St. Louis, watching a pop-up bike lane in action, I struck up a conversation with a 64-year-old MetroBus...
Twenty-three months in, The Broadway has received recognition among Doubletree properties, blown past occupancy rates and developed one of Columbia’s go-to bars in The Roof.
This year, General Manager Bob McDonald says the boutique hotel is focusing on making their in-house restaurant, ElevenEleven, one of the premiere restaurants in Columbia with the help of its chefs.
The Broadway, owned by Dave Parmley, who also owns Hampton Inn and Suites and Stadium Grill, is a boutique Doubletree by Hilton property, one of only 25 in the world. The hotel includes ElevenEleven, the full-service restaurant, and The Roof, an indoor–outdoor bar.
“The whole vision for this project is really Dave’s,” McDonald says. “His vision matched what I had envisioned for this market for years.”
McDonald and the staff exceeded original occupancy goals by 15 percent. Looking forward, McDonald says they’ll work on promoting ElevenEleven for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The hotel employs, on average throughout the year, 150 staff members, most of whom are part time.
ElevenEleven makes 95 percent of all the food from scratch, says Executive Chef and Food Service Director Jeff Guinn. He and Chef de Cuisine Ben Randolph designed the menu together; Guinn describes it as “modern world bistro.”
That means, McDonald says, bringing in worldwide flavors and fusing it with the Midwest palate and portions.
The dinner menu includes items like roasted duck breast (Guinn is “amazing” with duck, McDonald says); bouillabaisse; grilled tuna; seared scallops; and a variety of flatbreads, pastas and small plates.
“Our lunch menu has some great offerings for those who are adventurous with food or those who might have a slightly more conservative approach to food,” Guinn says.
Guinn’s vision is paying off. The Mid-Missouri Chapter of the Missouri Restaurant Association named Guinn its Restauranteur of the Year. There are more than 200 members in the Mid-Missouri Chapter.
“He is, true and true, a Columbian and has a feeling of what people are looking for in the market, and he was able to take the ideas he had and tie them in with Ben’s [ideas],” McDonald says.
Guinn joined The Broadway team after a stint as MU professor in the School of Hospitality Management. McDonald says his teaching background makes Guinn an unusual chef, with a teaching temperament rather than the stereotypical chef’s intense and critical personality. He’s passionate about teaching, but also about creating great food.
Guinn’s daily role is maintaining service and food standards across all the hotel’s food operations, including the restaurant, The Roof and catering services.
Right now, McDonald says, they’re working on building awareness with local foodies and overcoming the hotel-inside-a-restaurant stereotype. And after some stumbles with service at the outset, McDonald says the team is ready to bring in food critics to analyze the products. Bringing in travel and culinary writers is great exposure for the entire city.
“If you live in a metropolitan area like Chicago or St. Louis, you know that your finer restaurants are in hotels, and most of your finer chefs are in restaurants inside hotels,” McDonald says. “But it just hasn’t translated here yet.”
“We’ve built some great menus, and we’ve got a lot of passion behind the food,” Guinn says. “We’ve got some great wine lists. We’re just kind of getting the word out there that we’re not a hotel restaurant per se, we’re a great restaurant that just happens to be located in a hotel.”
The restaurant is located in the lobby, serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays, has a dedicated pastry chef, and offers valet parking during lunch. The restaurant also offers events like wine-pairing dinners, whiskey tastings and cheese tastings to engage with the community.
Guinn says the restaurant has been known as a “hidden gem” since opening. He’s ready to move from hidden gem to top-of-mind for Columbia dining. Part of that means sharing the vision for ElevenEleven.
McDonald describes the food not necessarily as fine dining, but exciting dining.
“If you’re going to try to be the best hotel, try to bring something unique as far as design, you better be unique in all aspects,” McDonald says. “So the food had to be that way too.”
The hotel is coming off some big awards. In 2014, The Broadway was named the Doubletree Development of the Year, beating out properties across the United States. In 2015, the property was named fifth of more than 400 Doubletrees in the world for guest services.
The building is LEED certified, which McDonald says was achieved through air and heating system efficiencies, significant reduction of construction waste going to landfills and an ambitious recycling program inside the hotel. The Broadway was the first federally certified LEED hotel in mid-Missouri.
Upcoming projects include expanding meeting space and continuing to make The Broadway a focal point downtown with the continued success of The Roof and partnerships with True/False, We Always Swing Jazz Series, Roots N Blues and other Columbia activities. And the team is in the early stages of planning for further development.
That community cooperation extends to the entire hotel industry. McDonald says the hospitality industry works together, with the help of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, to protect the lodging tax, making sure the funds go back into the hotels, retail stores and restaurants that make up the tourism industry.
“I think that really drives us to be tighter as a community so that we can be good stewards of the tax and help build Columbia,” McDonald says.