Upgrades on the way
The West Gate Inn and Otto’s Restaurant have been landmark destinations for over-the-road truckers and weary travelers off Exit 26 on Interstate 70 for more than 30 years.
But, with only one known renovation in that span of time, the motel and restaurant are due for a makeover.
Siblings Eric Johnson and Lisa Mauser plan to do just that.
They recently purchased the 100-room motel, at 2210 U.S. Highway 6&50, with plans to completely renovate and nationally franchise as a Red Roof Inn.
Johnson and Mauser are both new to the hospitality industry. Previously, they each worked in banking and financial services.
Together, they carefully considered their business plan before purchasing the property.
“We knew that we would have to do full-room renovations so we started looking into franchising opportunities,” Mauser said.
They chose the Red Roof Inn franchise because it is a growing national chain of economy and budget properties. They offer economical rooms with full amenities such as flat-screen televisions, pillow-top mattresses and high-end bedding.
“We will be the first one to open in Colorado,” Mauser said, adding that Red Roof Inn was mutually excited to partner with their first property in the state.
Representatives from the company have already visited Grand Junction to discuss what renovations will be needed at the motel in order to meet the company’s brand standards, Johnson said.
Red Roof Inn rooms have a signature red accent wall that will be added in every room, and other renovations will include granite countertops, vinyl hardwood flooring, new carpet, fresh paint and light fixtures.
The inn’s lobby will be upgraded to include a signature stone accent wall and new Red Roof Inn signage, Mauser said.
Johnson said the first room renovations are planned to begin in March and he expects that they can begin branding themselves with the new company name by late summer.
“We’re just really excited to be a Red Roof Inn,” Mauser said.
Before purchasing the property, Johnson and Mauser discussed the challenge of not only remodeling the entire motel, but also taking on the daunting task of restaurant management.
They decided to lease the 3,500-square-foot dining and kitchen space that was formerly Otto’s Restaurant & Lounge to Fly’n Roosters. Co-owners Mac Christensen, Jason Steed and John Steed said they jumped at the opportunity to open a second location, in addition to their restaurant at 200 W. Grand Ave.
“We absolutely loved the idea and thought it was a perfect place for a wing joint,” Christensen said.
The remodel to the restaurant and lounge is in full swing with most of the renovation taking place in the dated kitchen.
“We’re cleaning everything up so it is a much more functional kitchen that is easy to maintain,” Christensen said.
Most of the old stained glass has been removed, but the new owners plan to keep all of the classic woodwork in the bar.
When complete, the restaurant will have a seating capacity for 104, plus 30 seats in the lounge and a bonus outdoor dining area.
“It is really the perfect set-up,” Christensen said.
Fly’n Roosters is well-known locally for their selection of hot wings slathered in signature sauces, ranging from very hot to sweet to dry rubs. Their menu also includes burgers, soups, salads and sandwiches at reasonable prices, Christensen said.
They plan to hire about 20 new employees to work in the new location and tentatively plan to open March 1, Christensen said.
“We’re happy to be expanding in kind of a tough market. We feel really blessed to expand and hire locally,” Jason Steed said.