New Williamstown hotel gives neighboring restaurants food for thought on ripple effect

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WILLIAMSTOWN — With construction of the new Fairfield Inn & Suites at 430 Main St. moving quickly, three restaurants next door are watching the work proceed and wondering whether it will result in more diners.

And all three already have been doing strong business for years without a hotel next door.

The project should be complete by late October or early November, according to Bryan Lillie, construction supervisor for prime contractor Russell & Dawson.

"When families come to Williamstown for Thanksgiving, I want them to be able to stay here," he said.

Work on the three-story, 94-room hotel started last fall with the demolition of the office building that used to stand there. Navin Shah, owner of the Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge in Lenox and the Holiday Inn Express in Great Barrington, has estimated the cost of the hotel project at about $10 million to $12 million.

The building has a total floor area of about 53,000 square feet, and is about 35 feet tall.

For Stella Giannaris, owner of Olympic Pizza at 460 Main St., the prospect of having a hotel opening right behind her restaurant is exciting. She doesn't know what the impact will be, but she already has developed a loyal local following in her seven years of business. Whatever happens, she will be ready, which, hopefully, will mean hiring more staff and ordering more supplies.

"I expect it to be good for my business," Giannaris said. "I expect to see an increased customer count from the late afternoon into the evening, as we are a short walk from the hotel. I look at the project as an encouraging local economic indicator that will be a good development for the town and surrounding communities."

Mike Ameen, owner of the Moonlight Diner & Grille at 408 Main St., said the new hotel already is helping business. Workers from the project come in on a daily basis, and he expects that hotel guests will do so as well.

"We're getting a steady diet of construction workers, so it's already having an impact," he said.

Ameen noted that the Moonlight has done well during its 25 years in business without a hotel next door, so having it there will only help.

"It's not going to hurt business, that's for sure," he said.

Ameen noted that the location of the hotel is fortuitous, with three restaurants "within a two-minute walk. It's good advertising for them — a good central location."

He said his operation will adjust quickly to the new influx of customers, as it does with seasonal changes in customer counts.

"We're pretty good with that anyway, but I do anticipate it will be a bit busier when they open," Ameen said.

Jeff Fang, owner of Chopsticks at 412 Main St., said he will wait and see how it affects his business — which is next door to the hotel. He noted that Chopsticks is getting some of the construction crew coming in to eat, but he saw more people coming in to eat from the office building that used to be there.

The owners of Olympic Pizza and Chopsticks are planning major renovations, work that has been in planning since before the hotel project came along. In both cases, it's just a happy coincidence.

According to Lillie, the job is going well. The biggest challenge to the project has been the sizable snowfall that came during the winter months, forcing them to shut down for about 10 days.

"That week was the biggest challenge," Lillie said.

But now, everything is on schedule and pushing hard. Already, all the furniture and fixtures are on-site, in storage containers, waiting for the interior finish-out.

Depending on the phase of construction, there are 30 to 60 workers on-site, Lillie said.

Most of the brick siding has been installed, with other materials over the entry arriving for installation next week.

"Next week is going to be a big week for us," he said.

There will be a breakfast buffet every morning near the entryway. But there is no actual sit-down, full-service restaurant. Other amenities include a small fitness pool with an attached Jacuzzi, and a fitness room with exercise equipment. There also will be a patio in back.

The Fairfield Inn & Suites chain is owned by the Marriott International.

Scott Stafford can be reached at sstafford@berkshireeagle.com or 413-629-4517.


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