Undertaking a project the magnitude of restoring, and in some cases, redesigning the Alexander Hotel and Alice Theater, is not only an exciting prospect for the Grayson County community, but an ambitious undertaking for the person willing to tackle such a venture.
As first reported by K105 earlier this week, businessman Michael Elmore is interested in turning the hotel and theater into a restaurant and culinary skills development center, as well as a theater production center, and housing and skills training center for women who come from troublesome backgrounds.
Elmore has a definite vision for the difficult project, and shared with K105 some details of his plan.
Elmore said extensive renovations are needed to both the inside of the facility as well as the exterior, and include -- electrical, plumbing and kitchen modifications; a total theater restoration; extensive residential restoration, and a redesigning of the front entrance to the hotel. Elmore clearly has his hands full, but is undaunted by the task.
“Once the purchase of the property is complete, renovations will take approximately 90 days,” Elmore wrote in an email exchange with K105. “Currently, I am doing extensive due diligence and will be calling on local contractors, architects, suppliers and material men for pricing and their ability to provide services.”
But before renovation can begin, necessary hoops must be jumped through and red tape dealt with.
“With regard to agencies (to deal with), there is the obvious process of approvals from the (Leitchfield) City Council, receipt of a building permit and Kentucky's restaurant authority” Elmore said. “In addition, we will be seeking donations of beds, tables, chairs, cookware, plates, silverware, etc.”
Of course, Elmore’s plan for the property includes a restaurant; something affordable for everyone, and which will include a variety of offerings. The restaurant will also serve as a training ground for those interested in pursuing a career in the culinary arts.
“The restaurant will offer family friendly foods designed to teach culinary skills (i.e. fresh meats, pastas, sauces, and specialty desserts),” Elmore said. “This will include cakes, pies, pastries and breads that can be purchased in a retail format. We will work with local farmers to provide a farm to table program. Average ticket prices will range from $5.00 to $15.00.”
Elmore’s plans for the Alice Theater includes a complete overhaul of the facility interior, with an eye toward giving the community a unique theater experience (with local talent at the helm), as well as free movies shown Thursday through Sunday
“The theatre company will be specific to this facility and will work with volunteers who have an interest” in theater production, Elmore said. “We will seek to work with the drama teachers at the local high school to help us facilitate some great entertainment. Any play performed will have a director chosen at that time.”
Elmore desires the theater to serve as a showcase for local talent, and also provide access to free movies for the community.
“The theatre will host local and regional musicians, community and special events, and free movies Sunday through Thursday,” Elmore stated.
Additionally, Elmore seeks to provide women who come from difficult backgrounds the opportunity to learn an in-demand skill set, potentially changing the course of lives.
“The residents of the facility will be between the ages of 18 and 30 who have faced at-risk or abuse issues,” Elmore said. “Residents will be selected based on their commitment to the culinary arts and desire to succeed. Ultimately, we hope each resident will eventually own and operate (a) restaurant. The average stay of a resident will be 120 to 180 days.”
Exterior renovations to a property that has been in existence since 1935 might not sit well with local residents, but Elmore says he only wants to return the facility to its primordial majesty.
“The general idea is to restore the property to its original glory,” Elmore said. “Renovations to the outside of the property will be subtle, while increasing function and aesthetic value.”
Elmore, knowing the sensitive nature of restoring a landmark, wants local professionals to do as much of the work as possible.
“Our goal is to include the public in our renovation efforts and (we) will seek volunteer labor to maximize the costs associated with materials,” Elmore said. “We encourage the community to take ownership in this project.”
Helping revitalize the “small town” feel of Leitchfield excites Elmore, and is one of the motivations he has for going forward with the extensive process of purchasing, renovating, and operating an enterprise such as this.
Elmore’s background, which includes broad areas of interest, including culinary arts, theater production, set design and construction, real estate, and 20 years of non-profit management, seems to have uniquely prepared him to competently tackle the undertaking.
“What has captivated my interest in this project is how it allows me to use all of the skills and interests I have pursued over the last thirty years,” Elmore said. “God seems to have his hands all over this.”
Rural America has witnessed a sea change in its way of life over the last three or four decades; once the center of a town’s activity, town squares now sit empty; once bustling locally-owned stores now sit vacant.
Elmore, with his intent of restoring the Alexander Hotel and Alice Theater, is hoping to do his part to restore past glory to what was small town America, while including the community in his proposed resurrection.
“Raised in a small town, I have found it to be a way of life that I desire and prefer,” Elmore said. “Our goal as a local business is to be a valued addition to the community (and) we welcome all community involvement.”