The most visible phase to date of the $7 million, yearlong renovation program at the Omni Downtown was apparent Tuesday when the new Juliette’s: A Fresh Florida Seafood Bistro opened for breakfast at the hotel.
“It’s nice to have everything updated,” said Richard Hardin, Omni food and beverage director.
In addition to new floor and wall coverings and new fixtures, the seating area in the lobby shared with Enterprise Center was made more open when the steel framework that was part of the hotel’s design when it opened in October 1987 was removed.
“We now have a much more contemporary feel,” Hardin said.
A new menu also is part of the enhancement plan. It’s built around fresh local seafood with at least one selection Hardin said you just don’t find on other menus – alligator ribs.
“Food should be fun and exciting. It’s nice to try something you can’t get anywhere else,” he said.
Also on Executive Chef Kyle Gibbs’ new menu are blue crab cakes, blackened snapper, brandy-fired shrimp and pan-roasted scallops along with filet mignon and spice-rubbed ribeye on the turf side of the menu.
Appetizers and side dishes have a Southern flair, including fried green tomatoes, bacon cheddar hush puppies, garlic grits and collard greens.
“I think food and beverage is a staple in selling a hotel. People these days are much more conscious about the food and beverage service at the hotel where they stay,” said Mike Islava, director of sales and marketing.
A weeklong grand opening begins March 3 with live music and other amenities on tap in conjunction with the March 5 First Wednesday Art Walk.
“That will be our official unveiling. This gives the hotel new energy,” Islava said.
“We think it will bring back the activity and excitement that was here when the Omni opened,” said Hardin.
The new décor and menu were conceived not just to appeal to the hotel’s guests but to offer a dining option for the community.
“We want everybody to come and enjoy Juliette’s. It’s not just for hotel guests,” said Hardin.