Renovated Concord hotel will still have Jewish flavor

NEW YORK — It won't be the Concord Resort Hotel we once knew — Jewish through and through — but it will still serve kosher blintzes and sour cream.

The new owners of the Concord Resort Hotel insist there will still be a Jewish ambiance when the hotel, one of the largest in the world, reopens the main building in October after a $40 million to $50 million renovation.

A kosher 300-seat dairy restaurant, called the Spa Restaurant, will be one of five restaurants at the hotel, according to Louis Tallarini, executive vice president of Value Investors, Inc., the real estate company of Joseph Murphy. Murphy's Concord Associates bought the hotel for $10.25 million at a bankruptcy auction recently in White Plains. There are also plans for the entire hotel to be koshered for Passover next year.

"This is a market that needs to be served," said Tallarini. "It has been very important to the hotel for years…We have the ability, if the demand is there, to deliver 3,000 or more kosher meals at each sitting."

For each of the Jewish holidays, he said, religious services — featuring a choir — will be conducted as in the past. For Sukkot, Tallarini plans to have three sukkahs large enough to accommodate 1,100 guests per meal.

He said no decision had been made whether to serve just glatt meat, a higher degree of kashrut, during the holidays or to have a kosher dining room and a separate glatt dining room, as the Concord used to have.

Tallarini observed that the hotel, which for 61 years was owned by the same family, could not survive on just a Jewish crowd. So the hotel, which will become the Sheraton Concord Resort Hotel and Convention Center, will have non-kosher Italian and Asian restaurants and a full-service, upscale coffee shop. No decision has been made regarding the fifth restaurant.

The hotel, which closed its doors last November after operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for more than a year, will seek to attract an upscale crowd — business travelers, conventioneers, outdoor enthusiasts and leisure travelers.

"This is the largest, most affluent market in the world," Tallarini said. "Over time, prices will go up to justify the renovation. There will also be a higher level of service."

The average room rate at the old hotel, including three meals a day, was $165 per night. The newly renovated hotel's average rate is expected to be about $125 per night, without meals.

Although the main hotel will not open until Oct. 1, Tallarini said a 42-room hotel at the Concord's famous Monster Golf Course will open during Passover. He said the new hotel will continue to maintain the Concord's two 18-hole and one nine-hole golf courses and may even add another course in the future. The hotel has 1,710 acres, 1,200 of which are undeveloped.

The hotel also plans to have 40 tennis courts, three upgraded swimming pools and a myriad of other sports and social activities.

The hotel will open its main building with 570 rooms; another 520 will open Dec. 1, he added.

Guests will find the hotel's trademark grand staircase in place, but little else will be the same.

"You're going to find a completely refitted hotel," said Tallarini, "minus about 120 older rooms that we're going to knock down."

Tallarini envisioned the hotel doing $75 million to $80 million in gross sales in three years. To accomplish that, he said the hotel's occupancy rate is expected to triple. Before it closed, the Concord was operating with a 30 percent occupancy rate.

About 800 jobs are expected to be generated to handle the increased occupancy, he noted.

After Grossingers was sold in the 1980s, the Concord tried to pick up the crown as king of the Borscht Belt. But critics said its owners never put money into the building, trying to live instead on its past glory.

The newest part of the hotel, the Towers, was built in 1977. Guests last Passover, many of whom had been coming for years, spoke openly of the deterioration. They pointed to holes in the curtain on the night club stage and to torn chairs.