SHERIDAN — New Year’s Eve celebrations mark new beginnings and nearly 350 people have been invited to get a first glance — and taste — of what the Sheridan Inn’s new restaurant will have to offer the public beginning next week.
Inn General Manager Bob Townsend said invitations were sent to major donors, individuals who have used the Inn for events and volunteer staff and other workers who have helped rehabilitate the historic landmark.
The invitations will admit those individuals to a New Year’s Eve celebration that will include live music from Dave Munsick, samples of every item set to be featured on the restaurant’s new menu and a midnight lighting ceremony to celebrate a milestone of the facility.
Townsend said the three groups of individuals were chosen to participate in the New Year’s Eve bash as a way to say thank you.
And while merriment and good wishes for the new year will abound, the evening has a bigger purpose for the restaurant’s employees.
Townsend said the Open Range Bar and Grill has hired nearly 30 employees and has room for nearly a dozen more. That staff has been training throughout the week and will get its first test tonight in what Townsend is calling a “soft opening.”
“It gives us an opportunity to test the kitchen and test the recipes,” Townsend said. “Our chef is in town and he has been training staff all this week. They’ll train after the event too. (New Year’s Eve) will test the kitchen and our ability to produce a lot of food in a short period of time.”
Then, over the weekend, the staff at the Open Range Bar and Grill will invite family and friends to try out the new local eatery with a full, sit-down meal.
“We’ll be testing ourselves consistently until we can execute everything the way it needs to be done,” Townsend said.
Townsend added that once he and the staff feel comfortable with their abilities, they’ll open the doors to the public. He hopes that will happen by the end of next week, though he noted it could be sooner.
The restaurant has seen many changes — beyond a new menu and staff. The interior of the facility has been redesigned to nearly double the restaurant’s capacity. It now has an occupancy rate of 146 compared to the 75 it used to hold.
The changes within the restaurant provide examples of the work still to be done upstairs, where crews continue to construct and decorate the 22 rooms that will be available to guests.
Townsend said crews plan to have at least the 11 rooms on the north side of the Inn completed this spring. Once work can be completed on the roof on the south side of the building, and a custom fire escape can be installed, Townsend said he hopes to complete the other rooms.
But, Townsend said, progress is steady and one example of that will be on display tonight.
At midnight, staff at the Inn plan to turn on every light in the Inn — a task that has not been done, or been possible, for approximately 50 years, Townsend said.