GRANVILLE – One step into the lobby, not much looks different — at first.
There’s the original stone fireplace on the opposite wall surrounded by its familiar oak woodwork, with the greeter’s stand in its usual spot by the French doors.
Two more steps, however, visitors will notice the check-in counter on the left is gone, and that both of the French doors on either side of the fireplace leading into what was the formal dining area are wide open.
Only it’s not the formal dining room anymore, it’s the Tavern at the Inn.
There’s plush new carpeting everywhere.
And light! Streaming in through the windows during especially sunny days, and from updated new light fixtures at night, the entire first-floor setting has a bright, clean, colorful look.
The dark, oak woodwork paneling in the lobby and down the two adjoining hallways, meanwhile, has a new shine to it.
And an elevator will take guests to all four floors of the building for the first time.
Welcome to the newly refurbished and expanded Granville Inn!
The about-to-be-completed $9 million restoration-expansion of the 91-year-old Central Ohio dining and lodging destination goes on display Friday as the inn opens for the first time in nine months with a completely new feel, not to mention a new attitude.
“We’re breaking out of the gate pretty fast,” said the restored inn’s first general manager, Sean Mulryan.
“Every weekend in May, we’re already booked,” Mulryan said, talking about all 39 rooms, including nine new rooms added on the third floor. The inn’s first wedding will be May 23, he said.
As for the a new attitude: “The inn probably got a little bit of its swagger back,” said Christopher Bee, vice president of food and beverage with Columbus Hospitality Management, particularly with a fresh approach to level of service. Columbus Hospitality is operating the inn for Denison.
The doors swing open Friday. The Tavern and Oak Room — the latter being the formal dining area — begin welcoming guests at 11 a.m.
The Tavern, featuring a big new bar accommodating 16 stools and a community table along with other tables, will hold 40, said Linda Turk, director of sales.
The Tavern and Oak Room will offer a number of craft beers and “an extensive wine list,” Turk said, featuring house drinks such as the Bryn Du Julip, Patio Punch and 587 Martini.
The Tavern menu will include options such as Tavern Wings, Mac and Cheese, and sandwiches such as a Crispy Deviled Crab Cake and Corn Bread Crusted Catfish Po’ Boy. There will also be a children’s menu.
The Oak Room, with room for 30, will feature traditional entrés such as Scallops Lavallee, some old favorites with new tweaks, and some new selections including Herb Roasted Rack of Lamb.
“We really wanted to make sure we were embracing the tradition of the inn,” Bee said. “There’s a lot of things in there we’ve either improved upon or built new menu items in that will grab people’s attention.”
Both the Tavern and Oak Room will be brighter due to removal of exterior window awnings and the big awning over the patio, which was not original to the inn and therefore eliminated. However, the patio was rebuilt for use as a dining area.
“Removing the awning let in a lot more natural light,” Turk said of the interior, adding, “All of our lighting systems have been upgraded.”
The Tavern will also be bathed in light from five TV screens. In the old Acorn Pub, they could squeeze in just one.
Another space that could draw ooohs and aaahs will be Denison Hall, previously known as the Great Hall or the Ballroom. As with the Tavern and Oak Room, its ceiling was completely removed for replacement of utilities and is now higher, with recessed areas and six new chandeliers. A stairway leading to the basement was also taken out to provide more floor space, and there’s new carpeting.
“The ceiling has been completely redone,” Turk said, adding that on the walls, “The stone was given a very good scrubbing.”
Turk said Denison Hall is also wired with a sound system and drop-down screen.
Additional banquet space was created in the carriage house on the west end of the inn, in what was formerly a Granville Female College building, making room for 64.
“This space was 90 years of storage,” Turk said as new carpeting was being laid Friday. The three carriage house doors open to what is now a courtyard protected by a high stone wall original to the grounds. There will also be tables with umbrellas for outdoor dining, she said.
Back in the lobby, the check-in counter was replaced with a concierge space consisting of two desks where staff will invite guests to be seated as they check in, Turk said.
Guest rooms, including three suites with names such as the Presidential, University and Trustees, are all completely redone. Bee describes them as “comfortably sophisticated.”
“They did a nice job of putting in a little bit of contemporary while still making it feel like you’re in a 90-year-old inn,” he said.
As visitors approach the inn from its main parking lot, they’ll notice the original metal “Granville Inn” sign above the portico entryway. It’s been sandblasted, rewoven, galvanized and repainted, said Jeremy Johnson, of Robertson Construction Co., which led the renovation/expansion.
“It is what was there earlier — just repaired,” he said.
Granville Inn reopens Friday
• Tavern at the Inn hours — Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. to midnight.
• Oak Room (formal dining) hours — Monday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m., and Saturday 5 to 10 p.m. Closed Sunday.