Historic hotel to add restaurant
Marion’s Historic Elgin Hotel will add fine dining to its offerings before the end of the year.
Co-owner Tammy Ensey said work to renovate a 1,200 sq. ft. space at the northwest corner of the first floor into a dining room is already underway. An outdoor patio is part of the plan as well. The dining area is planned for 65 people and the patio for another 16.
She pictures a menu of steaks, seafood, and desserts, with drinks available at the bar.
“We want to keep the menu small so we can be successful,” Ensey said. “You can’t do all things for all people.”
Previously the hotel has had to direct guests about 30 miles to reach a fine restaurant, she said.
“Our region has a great need for a fine dining establishment where both hotel guests and community members can enjoy an upscale meal and a drink from the bar,” Ensey said. “While we didn’t originally envision ourselves in the restaurant business when we purchased the hotel, having a restaurant and lounge nearby is absolutely pertinent to being a destination business. We can’t expect guests to drive an hour or more to get here and then send them on another 25 minute drive for an upscale dinner.”
Ensey said when the hotel first opened in 1886, it had fine dining in the south portion of the first floor. Old menus show that oysters, prime rib, and boiled tongue were served.
Dining continued at the Elgin until the late 1960s when the hotel was closed.
“Many of the folks that live in Marion tell stories of dining at the Elgin,” project and facility manager Andy Hansen said. “For many of those still living in our community, it was once a tradition to come to the Elgin for Sunday lunch.”