Oklahoman Business Writer Steve Lackmeyer hosted his weekly OKC Central Live Chat on Friday at the recently opened Ambassador Hotel in Midtown with owner Paul Coury and General Manager Jeff Erwin. The following is an edited transcript of the conversation with NewsOK readers. OKC Central Live Chat is hosted every Friday at 10 a.m.
Q: You have hotels in Tulsa, Kansas City, Wichita and now Oklahoma City. What made you all decide to stay and operate hotels here versus opening hotels in larger markets?
Paul Coury: We focus more on regional, second-tier markets. Our goal is to expand into bigger cities over the next five years.
Q: What is one thing Midtown is lacking that you think would make a big impact on the area?
Coury: A parking garage is the biggest thing. All the other things are in place; residential, bars, restaurants, retail. It’s a good mix. It’s a very charming area.
Q: What made you all decide on the Osler building in Midtown versus some of the other older buildings in other parts of the city?
Coury: This building has always caught my eye. It looked like a hotel to me. It was a historical building, which is something I try to do. The area seemed ready for it.
Q: There is so much development going on in your immediate vicinity (Edge apartments, Fassler/Dust bowl, H&8th, Saints Anthony’s, Food Truck court, etc). Which development are you most excited about?
Coury: The Ambassador Hotel (laughs). I think the food trucks are fun. They’ve been very successful in Tulsa on Guthrie Greens. I think it will bring a whole other element of people. I’m seeing elsewhere they’re doing retail trucks, where they have boutique clothing — it looks so cool. People were lined up. I think this will be the next wave. It’s portable. You move it to the people.
Q: What were some of the challenges with the Osler building that you weren’t expecting?