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Recovery Sports Grill set to open

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If you like chicken wings, draft beer and watching games on really big TV screens, you'll probably like the new restaurant in the Ramada Charleston Downtown.

Hotel owners hope to open the Recovery Sports Grill -- the 10th in a chain owned by BBL Hospitality -- sometime next week.

While contractors were putting the finishing touches on the Virginia Street exterior, newly hired staff members were learning the ropes inside.

"It's American casual," said Ken Waldie, director of restaurant operations for BBL Hospitality in Albany, N.Y. "First and foremost, it's a sports service restaurant, heavy on appetizers -- wings, burgers.

"We are heavy on the bar as well, with about 20 draft beers -- five lines of regional crafts. Probably three Bridge Brews [from Fayetteville], hopefully some from Morgantown although there are some licensing issues, two from Great Lakes. The problem we have is a lot of beers we'd like we can't get here."

Recovery targets families, too, with a $2.99 kids' menu, said Carrie Hillenbrandt, also with BBL Hospitality.

And what would a sports bar be without televisions, dozens of them?

"TVs are a big component of what we do," Waldie said, "five 160-inch projection screens." That's more than 13 feet wide.

"On that wall," he said, pointing to a side wall with three of the jumbo screens, "there will be seven games and you'll have a box on the table so you can pick which one to listen to. We have the capacity to carry 14 games at once."

Nearly 200 people can sit in booths, at the bar or around tables, surrounded by photos and other sports memorabilia. Much of the stuff is local: Capital and Charleston Catholic high schools; WVU, Marshall and U.C.; and local legends like Kennedy Award winner Henry "Hoppy" Shores and Maj. Gen. Allen Tackett, a Golden Gloves boxer from Cabin Creek.

The outdoor patio, a freshly poured concrete slab beside the Virginia Street sidewalk, has room for 50 to 60 people, Waldie said. "We might heat it, if demand calls for it. There's televisions out there."

Hiring is well underway, although applications are still being taken. "We're starting with 75 employees," he said.

Meanwhile, work on the $15 million facelift of the 12-story continues, said Hillenbrandt and Keith McClanahan of BBL Carlton, the Charleston-based contracting arm of the company.

"We've been doing renovations since we bought it last year -- four new elevators, flat-screen TVs, wi-fi," McClanahan said.

BBL Hospitality recently signed an agreement with Starwood Hotels & Resorts to rebrand the property, Hillenbrandt said.

"They did approve us for management. We're converting to Four Points by Sheraton. It's not a full-service Sheraton. That will take us about a year. You can't change your name until you finish the renovation."

BBL built two model guest rooms to earn the approval, she said, and will now renovate all remaining guest rooms, floor by floor. "We'll start on the 10th floor in December."

The 12th floor, home to the former Windows on the River restaurant, has been gutted and will be turned into four condominiums. The 11th floor could get the same treatment, McClanahan said. "They kind of left it up to us."

No selling prices have been set yet for the condos.

Reach Jim Balow at balow@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.


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