Hotel rooms

Erie restaurant moves meals to empty hotel rooms

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Like other restaurants in Pennsylvania, the new Oliver’s Rooftop restaurant, located on the eighth floor of the New Hampton Inn & Suites on the Erie waterfront, cannot currently offer guests a seat in the dining room.

But even under recent restrictions imposed by Governor Tom Wolf to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the hotel is free to provide room service.

At a time when hotel occupancy rates are at an all-time low, Scott Enterprises, owner of the hotel, sees an opportunity in some of these empty rooms.

Starting Thursday, the hotel will begin offering 2.5-hour rentals on 30 of its largest suites, which have been outfitted with dining tables to provide in-room dining for four to eight people. The room rate will be $40 with a minimum food bill of $49.

“We’re trying to do something unique,” said Nick Scott Sr., president of family-owned Scott Enterprises. “We’re in a hotel and most hotels don’t have occupancy right now.”

Renting rooms, where servers can take orders and deliver food and drinks, is one way to meet two challenges at the same time.

The approach is not entirely unique.

Chris N. Scott, vice president of Scott Enterprises, said, “We thought we came up with this concept, but we read that there are other people in Pennsylvania who are doing it.”

While restaurants aren’t allowed to provide dine-in service until Jan. 4, serving small groups of people in hotel rooms “is completely legal,” Chris Scott said.

The state-ordered closure came at a difficult time for many restaurants, especially Oliver’s, which had been open less than two weeks when the governor imposed restrictions.

Continued: Oliver’s Rooftop Restaurant opens at the Hampton Inn & Suites hotel on the Erie waterfront

“The reviews have been great,” said Nick Scott Sr. “The last day we were there, people came in for lunch and dinner. People love the whole idea of ​​the place. And everything suddenly, after two weeks, ‘Bang’, we shut down. We brainstormed together. We thought we should try to do something.”

The on-site catering service is currently combined with a new take-out service model that allows customers to place their orders and have them delivered to their car outside the hotel.

The room service option should provide two different seats in each room each day, with time to clean and sanitize the room between groups.

Nick Scott Jr., who is also the company’s vice president, said the room service plan should help keep employees on the job.

“We have a fantastic team of people across all of our facilities,” he said. “Under the Governor’s latest order, they’ve put a lot of people out of work at a time when it’s usually very busy.”

Scott Enterprises doesn’t promise the experience will be exactly the same as sitting in the top-floor restaurant with a wall of glass that overlooks the water. But they hope it’s an alternative that some will embrace.

“Customers can have a great experience and employees can continue to do their jobs and earn money,” Nick Scott Jr. said.

Contact Jim Martin at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @ETNmartin.