Hotel Greene, a spot with “highfalutin’ mini-golf,” a restaurant and bar, is set to open next week at 508 E. Franklin St. in downtown Richmond.
The well-themed, highly designed and three-layered event destination is unlike anything Richmond has seen, and that’s exactly what owners and husband-and-wife team Jim Gottier and Andrea Ball had in mind.
Gottier and Ball are the same team behind Greenleaf’s Pool Room, which they opened five years ago on North Sixth Street inside the former Hotel John Marshall, For Greenleaf’s, Gottier, a former professional pool player, and his wife searched the East Coast for the perfect city in which to realize their dream of opening a pool room.
For Hotel Greene, a 7,139-square-foot space also in the former Hotel John Marshall, the duo had a location and space secured, but they needed a concept and inspiration. Inspiration came at an auction when they found a circa 1900 oil painting of a lion that once hung in the lobby of Hotel Iroquois in Michigan.
“It all started with the lion,” Gottier said. “He has such a sweet, solemn face.”
Three words came to Gottier’s mind when he saw the lion: romance, mystery, unease. Inspiration was born and, from there, a story — the story of Hotel Greene.
It is 1932. That’s the year you’re transported to when you step inside Hotel Greene, which is the name of a fictional hotel built in 1915 that’s since fallen on hard times. But it’s holding on to its fading glory. You can see the former splendor in the velvet sofas situated in front of a (working) fireplace, above which a lion sits watch. Or in the Masonite tiles that gleam throughout the hotel spa that you walk through on your way to your “room.” Or on the polyester lapels of the bellhops who check you in.
You see, Hotel Greene — the 21st-century mini-golf course, restaurant and bar — is trying to tell a story and convey a feeling (romance, mystery, unease). The story takes place throughout the venue, the bulk of which is a 13-hole mini-golf course. You “check in” for mini-golf in a re-created hotel lobby (ironically housed in a former Richmond hotel, but part of the back building, which was never the lobby).
Waiting to golf? Pick from sofas, cafe tables, platform seating, barstools — there’s plenty of seating, enough for 50 or so people throughout the lobby, where one can enjoy cocktails, wine, beer and food (period-inspired, of course — think club sandwiches, Waldorf salad, Sazeracs).
You tee off in the lobby, and the story unfolds as you mini-golf your way through the space — in the spa, down the halls, all over. If you’re thirsty along the way, servers will roam the area, or you can wait for the shot station (yes, a station for buying shots of liquor) — set up when you get to the “elevator bank,” which is that place in the fictional story where you would be headed up to your room, but in reality, you’re just putting along to another hole.
Throughout the experience, there are large- and small-scale (very small) visual and video art installations, all to help hammer home the hotel theme and those inspiration words: romance, mystery, unease.
To make it all happen — a story within a story of a mini-golf course played inside a fictional hotel built inside a former real one — Gottier and Ball scoured the country and tapped an all-star team to realize their vision.
There’s Bob Horwath, an internationally renowned mini-golf course designer, who designed the 13-hole course; Scott Bennett, an award-winning virtual-reality artist who goes by Scobot, working on video installations; and Rick Araluce, an artist and Guggenheim fellow who specializes in miniatures and who designed the entire downstairs experience.
Of course, there are plenty of local names, too. Citizen restaurant chef and owner Greg Johnson is designing the food menu; Greenleaf’s bar manager Phil Boyle is doing the Hotel Greene cocktails; Richmond artist Leslie Herman did the logos; Todd Dykshorn of Architecture Design Office was the architect on the project; Jeff Modisett at Conquest, Moncure & Dunn, the builder; and the entire Greenleaf’s Pool Room team will bounce between the spaces.
Johnson’s opening menu includes appetizers and snacks, such as a shrimp cocktail (with piquant Singapore sauce and seaweed salad, $11), seasonal crudites ($7 or $10, depending on size), and sandwiches, such as a club, French dip, burger or Monte Cristo ($10-$12). Brunch will be offered on the weekends a la carte or any menu item, plus coffee, tea and a round of golf for $20. The menu includes an omelet station, a croque- monsieur, quiche and cinnamon toast ($8-$12).
It’s a lot to take in. Hotel Greene is best conveyed in person. And Richmonders will be able to see for themselves very soon. It is slated to open the last week of July.
Hotel Greene will be open from 5 p.m. to midnight daily with daytime hours on the weekends. Golf costs $15 per person, and “tee time” reservations will be available on its website. Hotel Greene is sharing updates on its Instagram page.