Hotel may become culinary school

By Matt Lasley mlasley@civitasmedia.com

April 23, 2014

The Alexander Hotel may be turned into a one-of-a-kind culinary school/center for “at risk” young women.

Michael Elmore, a real estate agent originally from Florida and currently living in Charleston, addressed the Leitchfield Tourism Commission during its regularly scheduled Tuesday, April 22 meeting to present his plan for the hotel and Alice Theater and request additional funding for the project.

Elmore, who has also previously worked in kitchens and restaurants, said the school would be operated in a “boot camp style” and house 15 to 20 students from across the country for a period of 120 days at a time.

Students who will be considered would primarily be young people who can’t afford college, are coming out of the foster care system, or other situations that might prohibit a young person from attending college, Elmore said.

“I want to give people a hand up,” he said.

Classes would be partially conducted via a video teaching series. In addition, teaching chefs would come to the center to conduct classes, Elmore said.

Additionally, classes would overlap. 15 to 20 students would arrive, and after 60 days, another 15 to 20 would come in, said Elmore.

“This will be the only school like it in the country,” he said.

Tuition to attend the school would be $2,500 per student, but school officials would look to raise up to $75,000 per year to award in scholarships. Through tuition, Elmore projects the school would earn $250,000 a year in revenue.

Also, by renovating the Alice Theater for plays and movie screenings, it could produce an additional $50,000 in revenue per year.

The center would operate on a zero-tolerance policy that prohibits the use or possession of drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes in the facility.

Elmore said, among other renovations, the facility would require a larger teaching kitchen, so the current kitchen would have to be expanded into half of the restaurant space.

Elmore said he wants to make the renovation of the Alexander Hotel a “community project” by involving the city. He requested $325,000 in funding from the Tourism Commission for the project, which Elmore could repay over a period of time.

The Tourism Commission agreed to take the request and project under advisement but took no official action during Tuesday’s meeting.

In other business:

*The Tourism Commission passed a motion to fund the $1,270 cost of renting a 10x20’ booth at the Kentucky State Fair and sharing it with Grayson County Tourism, as well as applying for a 50 percent reimbursement.

If the 50 percent reimbursement is received, County Tourism will pay for half of the remaining balance.

The Kentucky State Fair will be held from August 14-24.

*The Tourism Commission passed a motion to appoint Commissioner Joyce Mudd to the position of Tourism Commission Treasurer.

*It was reported that the Leitchfield Splash Pad will be ready to open for the season in a week and a half. The opening will serve as an opportunity to unveil the firefighter’s plaque.

A specific date for the opening has not yet been announced.

*Johnson said the second annual Art in the Park will be held on May 17 and 18.

*Johnson said two new restaurants have arrived in Leitchfield: Best Donut Shop, which opened earlier this month, and Johnelis’ Pizzeria, which is tentatively scheduled to open in early May at 1587 Elizabethtown Road.