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After spending years stuck in the pipeline, Chattanooga's new Embassy Suites on Shallowford Road is scheduled to open in just eight weeks.
Hotel executives screened about 350 people at a job fair Monday for the 60 open positions at the seven-story luxury hotel, scheduled to open in June. General Manager Paul Mezick is looking for housekeepers, supervisors, engineers, front desk and maintenance workers -- but he doesn't need to fill any food-related jobs. That's because the multi-use development will also include a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, and the restaurant will be handling all the food service for Embassy Suites.
"They're doing their own hiring," Mezick said. "And that's a pretty big piece of it. It's the restaurant, catering, room service -- if we were doing all that, we'd have a lot more people here interviewing."
He expects Ruth's Chris to hire about 80 people, in addition to the 60 he's hiring for the 203-room hotel. The $40 million development, which has been planned since 2005 but was delayed when the recession hit, will include the Embassy Suites, Ruth's Chris and two retail shops. Mezick is planning a soft opening on June 6 and a grand opening later that month.
At the site, workers are adding landscaping and the exterior work is nearly done, Mezick said. Inside, carpeting is finished, vinyl work is finished and the furniture should arrive in the next two weeks, he added. They'll turn on the air conditioning this week.
"There are a thousand moving parts right now," he said. "And each of those has tentacles, too."
Applicants were routinely waiting for two hours for an interview at the job fair at the Hamilton Place mall Monday. Mezick said he hopes to have the hotel staff hired and in training by mid-May.
Kim Maddox came to the fair to try to put her degree in hotel and restaurant management to work. She's been looking for a job since October 2011, when a department restructuring eliminated the position she'd held for 16 years.
"You got to do what you got to do," she said, adding that she's been to job fairs all over the region. "Right now, looking for a job is my full-time job. I'm just looking to get my foot in the door."
The upscale hotel will include a rooftop terrace, an indoor pool with an outdoor deck and fire pit, a 40-foot atrium and 10,000 square feet of meeting space. Suite rates will run between $129 and $169 a night, Mezick said, and that includes a cook-to-order breakfast and cocktail hour at Ruth's Chris.
The company hopes to capitalize on the traffic generated by Enterprise South while also attracting local businesses, he said.
"We're excited about all the growth out there," he said. "But we also hope to provide meeting space for local businesses that have had to go downtown in the past for meeting space that hasn't been available at Hamilton Place."