A Marriott makeover

Hotel changes aim to lure guests from their rooms

02/23/2013 7:00 AM

02/23/2013 7:00 AM

What’s the fun in traveling only to be stuck in a hotel room?

That’s what Marriott International thinks, and that’s why the Courtyard by Marriott at 820 E. Second St. in Old Town has had a major renovation of its lobby and other public areas.

Jim Korroch , developer of the 128-room hotel that opened in 2006, says the buzz word for the renovation was to “activate” the lobby.

He says the idea was “to really make it an area where guests feel like they can get out of their rooms and … socialize with other guests.”

There’s a new bistro called Table 820 . It’s mainly for guests, although Korroch says, “Anybody is welcome to use it.”

It’s in the same area as a bar and a Starbucks service station.

Without these kinds of amenities, Korroch says, “Frankly, it causes us to hang out more in our rooms.”

The hotel’s traditional front desk has been replaced with welcome pedestals of sorts, which are more private and personal, according to the hotel.

There’s free WiFi, computer terminals, a printer and the thing that often proves the most elusive for business and other travelers: plenty of electrical outlets.

The renovation had been planned for some time, and it happened in conjunction with some renovation of ground-floor rooms that were damaged by flooding last fall.

“All of those room have been redone,” Korroch says.

They’re going to be done again with all of the other rooms late this year when the hotel implements new designs and color schemes.

Korroch says sales have met his expectations since the hotel opened.

“It’s been right on target with what our hopes were for the hotel.”

It sounds as if his other downtown hotel, the Fairfield Inn & Suites at WaterWalk , is exceeding his expectations.

“That’s just been a spectacular investment for us.”

House divided

It has been more than nine months since TJ’s Burger House owner John Abdayem has been gone from his east-side TJ’s, but customers are still confused about his role there, especially now that the restaurant has closed.

Abdayem wants to be clear about a couple of things. Most important, he says, is that his Delano TJ’s remains open.

The former TJ’s that was on the east side at Harry and Webb recently closed, but it has been since May that Abdayem was there. The circumstances surrounding his departure are in dispute.

Abdayem says he hadn’t planned on leaving but that his landlord, Homer Morgan , unexpectedly locked him out.

Morgan’s attorney, Ed Robinson , says Abdayem broke his lease and left owing Morgan about $32,000.

“What actually happened is entirely different than what he’s describing,” Robinson says.

He says Morgan sued Abdayem in Sedgwick County District Cour t , and Abdayem has brought a counterclaim.

Abdayem says that until a week ago when it closed, the restaurant continued to operate as Burger House , which he says led some people to think he was still there.

Regardless of the legal situation and its outcome, Abdayem says he continues to get questions from customers and wants everyone to understand the situation and that it’s not related to his Delano restaurant.

You don’t say

“That’s why I was mad they didn’t get our parking lot cleared.”

Rob Miller , managing partner at Goebel Liquor , who says sales were strong but he was forced to close at 6 p.m. Thursday because of a snow-packed parking lot

Carrie Rengers first reported these items on her blog. Be among the first to get her business scoops at blogs.kansas.com/haveyouheard.

About Carrie Rengers

Carrie Rengers joined The Eagle's Business team in 2002 despite her inability to even balance a checkbook. Fortunately for her, and readers, her Have You Heard? blog is about business scoops and contains lots of news but almost no math.

A Michigan native, Carrie’s father was quite tragically transferred to Little Rock, Ark., in the middle of her sophomore year of high school. To make matters worse, her parents put her in a girls school. She recovered, though, and went on to enjoy being an English major at Hendrix College (the Harvard of the Ozarks, don’t you know). She worked for the weekly Arkansas Business and the statewide daily Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before moving to Wichita to be with her favorite writer and cook, husband Joe Stumpe.

Carrie encourages readers to contact her with tips, questions, behind-the-scenes business news and even funny quotes from business people. Reach her at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com

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