For 15 years, we’ve been penning these letters—30 so far. The biggest news around here is that we are celebrating the 15th anniversary of the opening of the O.Henry Hotel and Green Valley Grill! In an insert to this letter, I ramble on about what we see in the rear view mirror and out of the windshield at these wonderful places. Read on for details about the special happenings we’re planning for the holiday season, along with other updates from all of our places.
As always, we are honored that you choose to receive these letters. If you don’t want to continue to get them, email us at email@example.com. Conversely, if you wish to receive these and more frequent news and happenings electronically, please sign up for email updates on our websites, or follow us on Facebook. As usual, many contribute to these letters, but they are primarily written in first person by me, Dennis.
Cheers! Dennis Quaintance & Nancy King Quaintance
November 23rd is a special day on our calendars: That’s when, in 1998, in a low-key way, we opened the O.Henry Hotel and Green Valley Grill. It was a big year all around: On January 3rd our partner’s wife, Katherine Weaver, gave birth to their twins, Will and “Brother Mike”; and, on August 2nd my bride, Nancy, brought into this world our twins, Kathleen and “New” Dennis. (We do everything together.)
On the occasion of this anniversary, I’m looking back nostalgically and looking forward enthusiastically. I’m enjoying reminiscing about the design process we employed and the cues we took from iconic buildings in our neighborhood, even if they are not still standing. For instance, we drew design inspiration from the original O.Henry Hotel, which stood downtown on Elm at Bellemeade from its opening in 1919 until its demolition in 1979.
But the design isn’t all we took from history. We wanted to bring back the community-centered hotels that all but disappeared when airline travel and interstates came along and most hotels moved away from neighborhoods to commercial areas near highways or airports. We wanted to bring Greensboro not just a great place for travelers to stay, but also a place that folks from the neighborhood would enjoy, like the old hotels—a real center of community life. We wanted a place that was “in and of” our community.
It is still emotional for me when I see familiar faces sharing afternoon tea in the social lobby (what a wonderful tradition that has become!), or family and friends gathering in the Green Valley Grill. All this, quite literally, is a dream come true.
Well, you might recall from earlier letters that we don’t save up improvements for six to ten years like most hotels. We are in a continual improvement mode, with our design team gathering weekly. I’m honored to lead this team; Bradshaw Orrell is extraordinary as lead designer; Chip Holton, QW’s artist in residence, offers his creative perspectives; and Leah Clark keeps us on track…otherwise we’d spend most of our time giggling about senseless stuff. We also have a talented in-house construction team led by Jeff Kennedy.
Even with our constant improvement efforts, every once in a while we tear into things “whole hog.” That is what we’ve done over the past couple of years at the O.Henry and what we will continue to do in the coming months. (The work that our guests will notice most should be completed in the next several months.) Here is a sort of behind-the-scenes tour of what we have done or are doing:
- Palmer Room
This NEW event space on the Terrace level will be adjacent to the Hawkins Brown Room.
– The paneled room will be a gem, providing a warm, private dining or meeting option for up to 22 people.
– Named for the Palmer Memorial Institute, which was founded by the amazing African-American leader Charlotte Hawkins Brown in 1902.
- Hawkins Brown Room
Our 1,500-square-foot event space on the Terrace level.
– A complete remodel is transforming a good event space into an extraordinary one.
– Wonderful large windows and doors with minimal window treatments lead to the English Walled Garden, which has five original landscape murals by Chip Holton.
– Ceilings are being raised 17 inches, with a new lighting system and eight crystal basket chandeliers, allowing this room to be an even better canvas for creating extraordinary bespoke events.
– An around-the-room landscape mural is being commissioned, and it will extend to the moveable walls.
- Terrace-Level Lobby
– Soon, just off the elevators on the Terrace level, you’ll find an appealing small congregation area on your way to the Hawkins Brown and Palmer Rooms.
- Caldwell Room
Our 3,000-square-foot event space is just off the main lobby.
– New window treatments will allow even more natural light and views of the wonderful river birches.
– In addition to 14 dramatic new crystal basket chandeliers, gilded mirrors will hang from a railing on a soffit molding that can also accommodate special decorations or accessories.
– An array of residential-style furniture, live plants and a versatile LED lighting system will be employed for our bespoke social or business events.
Our wonderful “orangery” inspired, light-filled room opens onto the Don Rives Cloister Garden.
– Chip Holton painted 20 birds onto his vine-inspired wall paintings.
– New lighting will enhance our ability to set just the right mood for private dinners or cocktail parties.
– New composite flooring that sort of channels Bradshaw’s inner Otto Zenke with its look and pattern.
- Merchants and Manufacturers Room (M&M Room)
– In this delightful wine cellar-inspired private dining room across from Hawkins Brown Room, we’re not changing a thing…We adore its much-loved, much-used look!
– We’ve added new 46-inch HDTVs with great auxiliary stereo sound systems.
– New Bluetooth connection-capable, high-fidelity stereo systems will play music from your iPod.
– Newly upholstered furniture, new leather footstools and refinished desks refresh the look.
– We’ve also added new carpet, granite-top bedside tables, window sheers and refinished bedside lamps.
– All rooms have original watercolor paintings of vignettes or architectural features from around the hotel.
- Guest Living Areas
– We are adding these great amenities near the windows at each end of the corridors:
- Writing desk with a fast computer and printer
- A super fantastic filtered water system that dispenses room temperature, chilled or heated water
- Ice dispensers (half of the rooms will only be half as far from ice, and our dispensers are quieter than ice-makers by a factor of 20)
- An “honor system” refrigerator with non-alcoholic refreshments
- Guestroom Corridors
– We’ll add crystal basket light fixtures that will create a wonderful pattern of light on the walls.
– Large Chip Holton garden paintings now gussy up the elevator landings. And soon gilded mirrors will take these landings up another notch.
- In General
– We implemented a rather complex yet highly effective way of heating most of our hot water: We heat it with the rejected heat generated by the air conditioning system. Most of the time, that thermal energy is just thrown out into the air. Rather than waste it, we use it to heat our water. Pretty neat.
– We installed the first “smart” thermostats that aren’t stupid. The old ones just had motion sensors, so if you didn’t move for a while, the air conditioning would turn off. These now have a door sensor and a motion sensor, plus a complex algorithm, so that when a guest leaves the room, the temperature will float up or down one degree. That saves a lot of energy without having a negative effect on our guest’s experience.
- Green Valley Grill
– Now, there is deliciously tactile, aniline-dyed leather upholstery.
– We took out the drapes in the arches, and installed shutters and smaller drapes to block the afternoon sun.
– There will be more TLC for GVG coming next year, including a new stereo sound system for the bar.
What am I nostalgic about?
I get wonderful warm feelings remembering the fantastic camaraderie and collaboration with the great design team we assembled. Working with Doug George, Don Rives, Chip Callaway, and the multitude of other collaborators, was one of the great thrills of my life. Today, I’m thinking most about the key design person, Don Rives. What a guy. Damn few left like him! He died five years ago, and we miss him every day. The best way to describe our feelings for Don is to read the memorial plaque in the social lobby, which reads, “Don Rives Cloister Garden—Don Rives was our Minister of Design from 1989 till 2007—He gave back as rain what he received as mist; he taught us about beauty and joy and how to turn our dreams into a physical reality. In his memory, we lovingly dedicate this garden.” (Kleenex, please.)
I find it amazing that five of the key people in our hotels and restaurants today were at the opening, or joined us soon after: Martha Bryant, Managing Director of the O.Henry, opened the hotel in a similar role; Will Stevens, President of QW Management and Development, pitched in during the opening; Martin Hunt, who leads both the Green Valley Grill and Print Works Bistro, joined us soon after opening; Tony Villier, General Manager of the Proximity Hotel, was at the Green Valley Grill on day one; and Nancy King Quaintance, Vice President, was and is in the center all things hotel and culinary. I am one lucky hombre to get to work with these great people and the other 650 people I get to call my colleagues.
We had a blast designing the O.Henry and Green Valley Grill! We decided that we’d sort of channel Charles Hartmann, the architect for the original 1919 O.Henry and the Jefferson Standard Building. And, we chose to put the restaurant not in the hotel but beside it with its own entrance and identity so that folks wouldn’t confuse it with a “hotel restaurant.” For the design of Green Valley Grill, we pretended that there was already a building on the site that we wanted to adapt and reuse. With that approach, we got to decide what we would have liked to have found! What’s more fun than that? We decided we’d like a building that was an amalgam of the power station at UNC-G, the little pump house in Lake Daniel and the store at 150 and Lake Brandt Road. For the O.Henry, we didn’t just reference Hartmann with the rustication of the first two levels, the shouldered arched windows, and the black-and-white basket-weave mosaic tiles in the restrooms; but we also found delight in the urns atop Aycock school, so we added similar ones to the hotel.
I could go on and on—and I sort of have, with an even longer rambling at ohenryhotel.com in the 15th Anniversary section—but I’ll leave it at that for this letter. Here’s to the next 15! Cheers!
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one-night stay in a king room plus $50 in dining vouchers. Story categories are:
- A Memorable Shindig: Share a tale about a social event at the O.Henry—maybe a wedding, a private dinner, non-profit fundraiser, a B’nai Mitzvah or a private dinner.
- Romance: A great one I heard a few years back was about a lady sharing lunch with her husband at Green Valley Grill on his birthday. She slid a birthday card across the table. In it was a gift voucher to stay at the O.Henry. He said, “When should we use this?” She responded by holding up a key and saying, “Now!”
- It’s the Little Things that Count: Tell a story about a staff member who did something extraordinary.
- Afternoon Tea: Here’s one: Recently, I noticed a woman taking afternoon tea in the lobby with four friends. Three were sitting with her, and her boyfriend joined in from Denmark via FaceTime on a laptop!
- Green Valley Grill: There are bound to be some great stories after 15 years of lunch and dinner!
Email your story to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to Quaintance-Weaver (324 W. Wendover Ave., Suite 320, Greensboro, NC, 27408) by January 15. See the 15th Anniversary section at ohenryhotel.com for winning stories.
Big News! O.Henry Hotel has been selected to be a member of the new Southern Living Hotel Collection. This is a huge honor because their editorial staff invited us to join this impressive group of 20 independent top level hotels and inns that embody the best in authentic Southern hospitality. We are currently collaborating with the Southern Living team on some exciting events for 2014. Stay tuned….
More Accolades: On TripAdvisor, we are ecstatic that O.Henry has been the top-rated Greensboro hotel all year (no small feat, that…)! Plus, AAA awarded us the Four Diamond Award for the 15th year in a row.
Special Packages: Take a romantic getaway and enjoy nearby musical performances, art, theatre and shopping. To reserve these and other packages, please call 336-854-2000 or go to ohenryhotel.com.
- Gift of the Magi Special: Check in early (we’ll get you in by 2 PM or earlier, if at all possible) to a graciously appointed guestroom and use your $30 amenity voucher for Green Valley Grill, afternoon tea, in-room movies and more. The next morning, enjoy a full Southern-style breakfast buffet and relax with a late checkout of 2 PM. Available Friday and Saturday nights, November 22–January 12. $229 plus taxes
- Triad Stage Package: On December 1–22, don’t miss the Triad Stage premiere of Snow Queen by Preston Lane, featuring original music by Laurelyn Dossett. Inspired by the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, this world premiere adventure for all ages transports the story to the highest peaks of the Blue Ridge. In the new year, catch Anna Christie by Eugene O’Neill (February 9–March 24) and/or Pump Boys and Dinettes (April 6–May 4). The package includes an overnight stay, a $30 credit towards dinner, two tickets and transportation to and from the theatre. Also, enjoy wine and truffles in your room, Southern-style breakfast buffet, and late check-out. $289 plus taxes
- Greensboro Symphony New Year’s Package: Stay at the O.Henry on New Year’s Eve, and go to the Symphony’s tribute to John Denver! The package includes an overnight stay, a $30 credit towards dinner, two tickets and transportation to and from the performance. $309 plus taxes
- Ring in the New Year Package: Start your evening with a bottle of sparkling wine in your luxurious guestroom. Then, take advantage of priority dinner reservations at Green Valley Grill. Watch the arrival of 2014 in your room, snuggled with your honey…or have a midnight toast in the Green Valley Grill bar, open until 1 AM. Sleep in with a late checkout of 2 PM. $249 plus taxes – and stay an extra night on that Sunday or Tuesday for only $100 more.
Stay Centered: Escape the holiday hubbub and focus on relaxation with these limited-time specials and packages. For reservations and more package ideas, please call 336-379-8200 or visit proximityhotel.com.
- Thanksgiving Holiday Special: Stay during the week of Thanksgiving from Friday, November 22, through Saturday, November 30, at our Best Rate. $219 plus taxes
- Sustainable Cheer Special: Stay on a Friday or Saturday night from November 22 through January 11, and receive a $30 amenity voucher for Print Works Bistro or other amenities. $229 plus taxes
- Proximity to Midnight N.Y.E. Package: Start the celebration with a bottle of sparkling wine in your Loft King Room. Continue the night with priority dinner reservations at Print Works Bistro, and then say cheers to 2014 at the Print Works Bistro New Year’s Eve party, open until 1 AM. The next morning, relax with a late checkout. $249 plus taxes – and stay a second night for $100 more.
Nutcracker Tea at O.Henry Hotel: This holiday tradition continues to grow, so you can now choose from four Sundays: December 1, 8, 15 or 22 at 2 PM. Bring your camera to capture smiles and delights as children of all ages enjoy amazing creations by our extraordinary pastry team—inspired by dreams of dancing sugar plum fairies, toy soldiers and waltzing flowers. Talented actors in character mingle, while each child decorates an ornament and helps our chefs make gingerbread houses. Afterwards, join Clara by the tree for the story of The Nutcracker. $44 per person, plus 20% service charge. Call 336-854-2015 for reservations. Learn more.
Christmas-to-Go: (Moved from Print Works Bistro to Green Valley Grill this year!) Give yourself the gift of a hassle-free celebration at home. Let Chef Leigh Hesling and his team prepare your “Christmas-to-Go” with selections of turkey, prime rib, lasagna and traditional á la carte items. Place your order by 10 PM on Sunday, December 22, then stop by the Caldwell Room at O.Henry Hotel on Christmas Day (10 AM–3 PM) to pick up your holiday feast. To learn more or place your order, call 336-854-2015 or visit greenvalleygrill.com.
Holiday Hours: On both Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, Green Valley Grill is open from Noon–8 PM (serving our dinner menu plus traditional favorites), and the bar is open until 10 PM.
4–10:30 PM. For reservations, call 336-379-0699 or visit printworksbistro.com.
New Year’s Eve Celebration at Print Works Bistro: On New Year’s Eve, choose from a full dinner or prix fixe menu. Celebrate the arrival of 2014 with DJ Jessica Mashburn from 10 PM–1 AM. No cover charge.
Mussels-Wine-Music: On Wednesday nights, we’ll continue our mussels and fries special for $15, five wines under $15 a bottle and live music from 7–10 PM by AM rOdeO with Evan Olson & Jessica Mashburn (no cover charge). Reservations recommended! Evan & Jessica take a holiday break on December 25 and January 1.
Cooking Classes: Looking for a great gift idea for a foodie? Tickets are now available for Chef Leigh Hesling’s 2014 cooking classes. There will be three at Proximity Hotel (February 15, June 14 and September 20) and three at O.Henry Hotel (March 29, July 12 and October 25). Enjoy a seasonal beverage during a cooking demonstration, then savor the food during a three-course meal with wine. Tickets are $80 per guest, or get a three-class package for $225. For tickets, contact Lee Healy at 336-478-9126 or email@example.com.
Farm-to-Fork Blog: If you haven’t been following Chef Pierce’s exploration of piedmont foodways with features on farms, seasonal finds and recipes, you have missed out! Read all of the past 60 features and sign up for notifications for new ones at lucky32southernkitchen.com.
Tuesday’s Live Music in Greensboro: Chef Pierce’s skillet-fried chicken continues to be topped with live music by our very talented friends from 7–10 PM (no cover charge). Here’s the upcoming line-up:
November 12 – Martha Bassett & Friends, 19 – Molly McGinn, 26 – Martha Bassett & Friends, December 3 – Molly McGinn, 10 – Martha Bassett & Friends, and 17 – Molly McGinn. Singers take a holiday break on December 24 and 31.
Voodoo Sauce: Our table sauce for grownups continues to find its way across the world! We’ll even ship it to you (order at lucky32.com). And, in addition to buying it at both Luckys, you can now find it in all Fresh Markets, Harris Teeter (Triad & Triangle), Kroger (Triangle) and Whole Foods (Cary & Greensboro). Find plenty of serving ideas and recipes at lucky32.com.
Holiday Dining: Lucky’s in Cary is open Thanksgiving Day from 11:30 AM–7:30 PM (serving our dinner menu plus traditional favorites). Lucky’s in Greensboro will be closed on Thanksgiving. Both will close after lunch on Christmas Eve and will be closed on Christmas Day.
Get Lucky & Go: If you are invited to bring a covered dish, we’ve got you covered with half-pint and pint options of collards, soup, beans and greens, whipped sweet potatoes, creamy grits, pimento cheese, artichoke dip… and don’t forget the black bean cakes! See menus at lucky32.com.
New Year’s Lucky Menus: Get our full menu, plus some “good luck” food like collard greens, country ham with red-eye gravy, grilled pork loin chops and hoppin’ john. If you are entertaining at home, take advantage of our “New Year’s Day To-Go” with family-style portions of traditional side dishes to bring and pass off as your own! On New Year’s Eve, the bar in Cary is open until 12:15 AM and in Greensboro until 11 PM.
Group Holiday Celebrations
Our goal is to blow your guests minds with great food, service and ambiance. Please consider one of our places for your holiday get together:
- Lucky’s in Cary: Up to 70 people in a semi-private dining area. Call 919-233-1632.
- Lucky’s in Greensboro: The private Starlight dining room seats 10, and we can host larger parties in the dining room. Call 336-370-0707.
- Green Valley Grill: Up to 30 people in our dining rooms. Call 336-854-2015.
- Print Works Bistro: Up to 30 people in a semi-private dining area; we open at 6:30 AM for breakfast Monday through Friday (a great time for workplace holiday celebrations). Call 336-379-0699.
- O.Henry & Proximity Hotels: Bespoke holiday events (from receptions to grand dinners) for up to 150 guests. See our Bespoke Holiday Party Package at O.Hernry and the Sustainable Cheer! Holiday Party Package at Proximity. Contact the sales team at 336-544-9615 (O.Henry), 336-478-9111 (Proximity)
With larger parties, we offer pre-ordering to expedite service so you have more time to enjoy your visit. Let us know when you make a reservation if you would like to pre-order. Just fax us your orders by 10:30 AM at lunch and 4 PM at dinner, and we’ll have your meals served within minutes of arriving. Call the restaurant or click here for a pre-order form.
Our restaurants and hotels offer gift certificates for purchase seven days a week on-site, or you can order online at qwrh.com. Customize a gift certificate for a hotel night stay (or even a variety of packages) for your fortunate recipient by calling the Proximity at 1-800-379-8200 or O.Henry at 1-800-965-8259.
Neighborhood Letter, Fall • ™ & © 2013 Quaintance-Weaver and affiliate