AC Hotel makes priority of food and beverage.

A spokesperson for the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association recently told GSA Business Report that Greenville is quickly becoming a "foodie" town.

Maybe that's why the announcement of the size of the 196-room AC Hotel didn't elicit much response from the crowd, but the mention of five new places to eat and drink did.

Some quick chatter and a few "oooohs" were heard above the construction din when Auro Hotels CEO D.J. Rama and Centennial American Properties President Brody Glenn welcomed a group to announce the beginning of construction on the AC Hotel at the Camperdown development.

Opening is more than a year away and some of the details for the eateries are still in the works, but planners know the hotel will have a bar that serves food on the first floor, a more intimate speakeasy-inspired bar on the second floor and a 16,000-square-foot roof space that will accommodate flexible space that makes room for up to three food and beverage experiences, including indoor/outdoor accommodations.

John Lapins, the Auro Hotels vice president who oversees design and construction, was not surprised to hear locals are more excited about food and beverage than accommodations. If fact, he is counting on it.

Gone are the days when a hotel restaurant was there out of necessity to serve tired travelers who didn't want to get back out on the streets after checking in.

"If they broke even it was a win," Lapins said of hotel restaurants from days gone by. "They were a necessary evil to a certain extent. It was a check-the-box thing."

Obviously, there were exceptions all along, but about a decade ago the generally accepted wisdom on the hotel restaurant changed along with a greater emphasis on an amenity-rich experience throughout the hotel, especially in the lobby, Lapins said.

"In general the F&B component industry wide has become more prevalent," Lapins said of the food and beverage side of the business.

In addition to enhancing the hotel stay for guests, that means hotels are more open to the public, too, especially the restaurants and bars. For the new Auro Hotels hotel, this area, this South Main location and this affiliation with the urban European-inspired AC Hotel company meant food and beverage could be nothing less than large.

Auro Hotels owns the Hyatt at the north end of Main Street's central business district and now the AC Hotel will put them at an anchor spot toward the southern end. Lapins said the two properties make nice bookends...

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