By JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
The MC Hotel is booking overnight guests, taking dinner reservations for the Allegory restaurant and welcoming locals to the lobby bar as of today, Aug.15.
About 100 guests gathered at the entrance to the hotel on Bloomfield Avenue and Orange Road in the early morning hours for a ribbon cutting as cars whizzed by on Orange Road, which had been closed to traffic for years during hotel construction.
The 120,000-square-foot, nine-story hotel broke ground three years ago in April 2016, and had 35 investors. The expected July opening, was pushed back about a month until today when the 159-rooms, restaurant, lobby bar, conference center and ballroom were ready for guests.
As of today, the restaurant was completely booked. Weekend room rentals were at 90 percent, and couples had appointments to check out the wedding facilities, said hotel officials.
Residents however, will still have to wait a little longer to catch a drink on the much-anticipated rooftop bar expected to open in the fall, said officials.
The MC Hotel is part of the Marriott’s Autograph Collection — a collection of independent upper-upscale boutique hotels within the Marriott International portfolio of brands. The Chicago-based Aparium Hotel Group will run the MC Hotel, the first on the east coast, according to Todd Cilano, COO of Aparium Hotel Group.
“We strive for translocation hospitality collaborating with local vendors and celebrating local culture,” said Cilano.
“Part gallery, part gathering place,” original artwork from local artists is everywhere, including in the rooms.
Montclair artist Siona Benjamin-Kruge did the artwork in the lobby and on some of the floors. A piece in the lobby is called “Shangri La” and the one hung in the third floor elevator bank is “Winter.” The mural along the bar is a 30-foot black and white scene inspired by the local flora and fauna by world famous illustrators Ruben and Isabelle Toledo.
Room extras include locally curated products as well, such as Glenfield Middle School student Rose Powell’s candles. The sixth grader, who formed Rose & Co. with her dad, came up with two scents for the hotel — the “Uptown Garden” and Downtown Jazz.” A couple of bags of Montclair’s Joe’s Chips and Dolce Federica’s chocolate top the mini-bar.
The rooms, banquet space and lobbies each have their own flare, but with a mid-century vibe. Room rates range from $199 to $256, and come with breakfast options.
General Manager Oscar Fontana Roos said he hopes the residents think of the space beyond an overnight stay. He said to think of it as a community center of sorts, to meet up with friends or to hold a business meeting.
Chef Daniel Kill will oversee restaurant operations. Kill honed his skills in Germany at the two-star Michelin Tantris Restaurant, before moving to New York City to cook at Kurt Gutenbrunner’s Wallsé, Café Sabarsky and The Upholstery Store Food & Wine. He has planned a small-plate light Mediterranean menu with produce, seafood and foods sourced locally. And at the bar, the MC Pilsner — brewed exclusively for the hotel at the Montclair Brewery — will be served.
Mayor Robert Jackson called the area — the Montclair Center Gateway — that now includes the hotel, “transformative,” recalling when the corner housed a S&H Green Stamps, bowling alley and a service station.
“They had charm in their day, but what is here now is a marvelous mix of development. We are managing it [development] down at this point, and can be selective,” Jackson said.
The MC Hotel was built by Pinnacle Cos. and Hampshire Cos., both of whom are developing the Lackawanna Plaza site. Pinnacle, along with LCOR, built the neighboring Valley and Bloom mixed-use project and the Orange Road Garage. Pinnacle and Brookfield Properties are developing the Seymour Street development. And Pinnacle has presented plans to build the 46-unit MC residences in between the hotel and parking garage.
James E. Hanson, president and CEO of Hampshire Properties said the Morristown-based company, started in 1922, are not an out of state developer.
“We want to make an impact and difference in the community,” he said.
Montclair now has two hotels — the 32-room The George developed by Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker opened last year.