The Richardson Hotel

If there’s one thing that everyone has been waiting for, it’s the reopening of the historic Richardson-Olmsted Campus. Thankfully, we have some good news to share. The Richardson Hotel is holding its soft opening this coming Friday. I spoke to general manager Karen Oleszak, who filled me in on the exciting development.

“The hotel guest rooms are opening this Friday,” explained Oleszak, who has been in the hotel business for 34 years. “It’s the first in a phased approach to opening the building. We are also booking banquets and events, which start on March 15. Then, Schutte Consulting (operators of Oliver’s and Britesmith) will begin to roll out the food and beverage program.”

Café Calvert (powered by Overwintercoffee) opening April 1st

Bar Vaux opening April 15th

Cucina Restaurant opening May 15th

“There’s a whole new look and feel here,” said Oleszak. “The hotel’s front desk is now on the main floor for better flow, and the wayfinding is clear and concise. Douglas [Jemal] has replicated a painting from 1870 that was uncovered during the remodeling. The painting’s elements are throughout the main building. He also pays tribute to the history of Buffalo with new imagery – showcasing the architectural aspects of the city. He wanted to get back to who Richardson and Olmsted were, and why the building was built this way. This hotel is a brand new concept, which means that a lot will be different than what people remember. We’re excited to get a feel for the guests’ reactions, so that we can continue to put a capital plan together, moving forward. To date, our main focus has been getting the building reopened to the public.”

Oleszak credited all of the new branding and storytelling to Douglas Jemal’s love for Buffalo and its rich history.

As for some of the art gallery aspects curated by the former occupant, Hotel Henry, Oleszak told me that guests to The Richardson Hotel should remember that these are two completely different brands. For example, there might be occasional art gallery exhibits, but they would be more like pop-up installations. She did mention that there will be plenty of programming on the grounds, including a jazz festival on September 3.

“We will bring back some of the community events to the grounds that surround the building,” said Oleszak. “We’ve identified each of the pieces of land, which are now named after Richardson and the Olmsted Parks. People will be able to book the different outdoor spaces for events.”

A grand opening for The Richardson Hotel will be held in May, when everything is up and running, including The Ballroom, which has a new look and feel, with a wine vault and historic bar. Obviously, there will be a lot to take in.

On Friday, March 3, the doors to the “reimagined” The Richardson Hotel open to the public at 7am. After that, the hotel will be open to visitors seven days a week. Hopefully, everyone will have a newly-formed personal connection with the building, much the way that Jemal has with all of Buffalo.

Get connected: The Richardson Hotel | 444 Forest Avenue, Buffalo NY 14213 | 716-493-2610

All photos courtesy The Richardson Hotel

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