Thursday, January 10, 2019

Berkshires hotel project redirects its restaurant plans

The original motel sign, in disrepair. (Photo courtesy of Tourists)

NORTH ADAMS, MA -- On Wednesday I posted the news that plans for an upscale restaurant headed by a James Beard Award-winning California chef as part of the destination hotel project named Tourists have fallen through.

Now, the people behind Tourists are revealing details of what they are doing instead, and it is quite different.

A restaurant called The Airport Rooms will open in February in the historic 1813 farmhouse that is on the same property as the Tourists hotel on State Road. The new restaurant, according to a news release, will be "serving classic cocktails and a creative food menu from Austin [Texas] native Greg Thomas."

Originally, a farm-to-table restaurant called Loom was to be created by the development company in the former Our Lady of Incarnation Church on Massachusetts Avenue. However, the intended chef, Cortney Burns, has left the organization and the development direction redirected.

In addition to The Airport Rooms restaurant under Thomas, the food and beverage menu at the lodge and deck bar of Tourists is being taken over by chef Corey Wentworth, formerly of Boston's Flour Bakery.

The unusual name of the new project is a historic nod to the nine-room former farmhouse that from 1944 to 1995 was known as Airport Rooms and Tourist Home. Beginning next month it will be open daily from 5-11 p.m. serving drinks, dinner, and snacks.

The developers say the directional change is at least partly because of feedback from hotel guests, potential customers, and the community at large since the hotel opened in August.

"As a result, we have decided to not build a fine dining restaurant on the Tourists property at this time and are instead focusing on enhancing our food and drink offerings with a lively new addition," the announcement said.

Benjamin Svenson, one of the principals, said, "Things are going really well. We're blessed to have the audience we've had to date. In barely five months, Tourists has welcomed more than 4,000 guests."

The only Texas chef named Greg Thomas that comes up in a Google search is a graduate of the Cerritos (CA) College culinary program who worked in institutional food service positions in Texas and the Boston area.

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