After being closed for 16 months due to the historic flood of 2010, the NYLO Hotel at 400 Knight Street has booked their reopening for Monday, Aug. 15. Because it was open for only 18 months prior to the flood, hotel representatives said they are looking forward to reopening.
“Under normal circumstances, we would have liked to have opened within a year,” said Michael Mueller, the executive officer. “As soon as the flood happened, the hotel market really picked up, so we’ll be interested in how well the market absorbs us when we open. The whole market across the country has gotten better since Feb. 2010. I also think it’s a stronger market than we opened up with in Sept. of 2008. We think it will be a nice experience.”
Following Monday’s “soft” opening, Mueller said they will have another more formal celebration some point after Labor Day. The hotel plans to announce the date on nylohotels.com by mid-September.
While he said he could not disclose the cost of repairs, Mueller said they reopened without federal funds. He said they didn’t even apply for federal funds.
“We didn’t think it was available to us, and the property was insured,” he said. “The insurance company covered the cost for the renovations for the most part, other than deductibles. We used all private funds. The cost of the total damage in comparison to the cost of the building was minor. Percentage-wise, it was probably about 20 percent of damage so it didn’t make sense to throw away 80 percent of an asset with 20 percent damage.”
In regards to changes, most of the modifications centered around furniture in the restaurant and the outdoor deck. Most of the artwork on the walls was salvaged but tables, chairs, and kitchen equipment was destroyed.
“The furniture we replaced was very similar to the original furniture,” said Mueller. “All of our furniture is unique here [because] it’s all custom made, and takes a long time because it’s made on site, by hand. It also takes time for it to be delivered and installed.”
The biggest visible difference is on the patio; the furniture is different, he said, and said the guest rooms were not really damaged much.
Susan Shaw, who was previously the accounting manager and is now general manager, said there will be 35 to 40 staff working full or part-time to start.
“We have 20 new employees,” she said. “With the exception of a few server positions, we’re ready to go. I think it should be safe to say, by this time next year, we should be back up to 60 employees.”
In regards to new hires versus rehires, Shaw said it’s about a 50-50 ratio.
“It’s been [more than] a year so some people have moved on to other opportunities,” she said.
This time around, Mueller and Shaw said the hotel will offer more of a bar or lounge atmosphere, as opposed to its former club-like ambiance. Overall, the general vibe will be more “laid-back.”
“It’s still upscale in the sense that it’s very high quality food,” said Mueller. “Prices will be very reasonable. It’s going to be a fun place.”
Shaw also said, “It will no longer be the DJ scene. It will be more jazz music, an acoustic guitar, or that type of thing. It’s all a new menu, as well. We just opened the online reservations for hotel stays [on Tuesday]. We’re just making sure that we’re 100 percent and taking care of last minute small stuff.”
When asked how they plan to combat future floods, they said there’s not too much they can do when the water rises.
“What we will do differently is if the waters start to rise, we will move things to get them to safety,” said Mueller. “From what I understand, it was the highest it’s been in 150 years.”
When workers were testing emergency lighting for the fire inspection, it was raining, which brought back negative memories.
“It was a little flashback,” Shaw said with a laugh. “I cringe when it rains. We just have to pay attention to the forecast.”
Mueller said NYLO has another hotel in South Dallas with an anticipated opening in July.
“That will be our fourth hotel,” he said. “We have one in Plano, Texas, and another in Las Colinas, which is on the left side of Dallas. We owned a site in Kansas that we were going to break ground on, but then the recession hit. We hope that that one will be ready by 2012.”
Mueller said they had a downturn in 2008 but their properties are restructured and healthier than ever, “probably healthier than most hotel companies.”
Shaw said the reopening is a thrill. With all the hard work everyone has done, she said the party will be a success.
“It’s just an exciting time,” she said. “We’re very proud.”
Mueller agreed, but said he will be more relaxed after the opening.
“It’s still really stressful…but once we open, I’ll be very excited,” he said. “We still have a few units that need to be replaced. That stuff hasn’t been delivered yet. We certainly wish we never closed, but the best thing is we’re going to be able to reopen with a party.”