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April 11, 2021

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Gray’s at the Park revamps to Grays

Hilton aims to attract more downtown patrons with redesign

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
4 Photos
Grays server Aaron Snoddy of Battle Ground opens up the bar area at the restaurant, located at the Hilton Vancouver Washington. The restaurant is finishing up a $1.7 million redesign.
Grays server Aaron Snoddy of Battle Ground opens up the bar area at the restaurant, located at the Hilton Vancouver Washington. The restaurant is finishing up a $1.7 million redesign. Photos by Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian Photo Gallery

Gray’s at the Park is no more. Long live Grays.

A new look has arrived at the restaurant at the Hilton Vancouver Washington and it goes beyond shedding half its name and an apostrophe.

A $1.7 million redesign aims to bring in more guests by opening the floor plan, offering double the bar seating, and broadening the entrances. The new design no longer makes it look overly crowded, as its decade-old design had before, said General Manager Mike McLeod.

“I used to joke that we’d get 15 people in here and feel full,” he said.

With more seats and improved decor, McLeod said the restaurant is bidding to nab more people heading to downtown for food and drink. The downtown area has added 48 restaurants, bars and coffee shops in the last five years, according to the city.

The redesign’s biggest ace may be its improved patio. Cordoned by cedar wood on the hotel’s west side, the patio seats more than 70 people and will now boast two fire pits. It could thrive in the future on days when the waterfront and Esther Short park are packed, McLeod said.

“This is all going to be a big draw,” he said. “The goal is to have a host out here because we will be busy enough.”

Other changes include an expanded bar menu with more beers and spirits on tap, a garage-style door and redesigned private dining rooms.

Work is nearly done in the redevelopment and should be completely finished in early July. So far, he said, customers have enjoyed the space but it is too soon to tell whether business has grown.

The new restaurant could be arriving at a strategic time, as well. Three new hotels are hoping to compete for overnight stays in the downtown area, including the Hotel Indigo that will break ground this month.

Others include The AC by Marriott that is expected to break ground either at the end of 2018 or early 2019. Vancouver developer Ryan Hurley also plans to open a hotel in the area.

McLeod said the 226-room Hilton Vancouver Washington, which opened in 2005, relies on its restaurant and catering services for 42 percent of its revenue.

“We wanted to get this done sooner rather than later, for sure,” McLeod said of the redesign’s timing. “But more hotels and restaurants should bring more people hopefully.”

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