The new Holiday Inn on the Veteran's Parkway is set to open on June 16 according to Doug Lambert, spokesman for the ownership group. Lambert said the project is on schedule, and rooms and banquet facilities are already being booked.
"We built this hotel with an unusually large banquet room and food service operation for the size of the hotel," Lambert said. "We just felt there was a need here and the pre-bookings have confirmed our thoughts on that."
Another food service component of the new hotel will be its restaurant. Let me tell you, this isn't going to be just any hotel restaurant. It will be unique to this area.
The restaurant is going to be named Emma's in honor of Emma Kelly. The restaurant is being opened by Jason Scarborough, the acclaimed chef of the Blue Moon Café in downtown Statesboro.
Let me just go ahead and answer the most obvious question. The Blue Moon is going to remain open. Scarborough intends to run both restaurants.
"I will continue to operate the Blue Moon just like I always have," Scarborough said. "Emma's will be bigger and have a more up-to-date kitchen which will allow us to serve more people and to expand our fine dining menu."
Scarborough said his menu will meet the criteria of the Holiday Inn corporation, but he will expand the lunch menu and greatly enhance the dinner menu.
"I am very honored to be able to call this restaurant Emma's, and to have Miss Emma's family be so supportive of that," he said. "They are going to donate a piano and a large portrait of her. I hope to make this restaurant very special."
Scarborough is actually going to be operating three restaurants in Statesboro. He and a partner have recently purchased Mr. Omelette, the small breakfast/lunch restaurant in the Big Lot's shopping center on Lester Road. (And yes, he is putting better coffee in there.)
Back to the Holiday Inn. Lambert said the number of people submitting applications to work in the new hotel has been tremendous.
"We had so many people coming to apply for a job that we had to turn over the application process to the Department of Labor," Lambert said. "There were people everywhere. We had 250 come in before we moved the process. It was crazy. I am glad there is such an interest."
Lambert said the 90 room hotel will employee 35 people. It will have banquet seating for 160 people, and Emma's will seat 70. There you have it. Another restaurant is on the way as a brand new hotel dots our skyline.