By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario - The Grand Hotel is open for business.
Marilyn Blackwood, owner of The Grand Hotel, a country chic resto/bar in Martintown, is a fresh newcomer to the restaurant scene.
For decades, Blackwood, a Martintown resident for the last 20 years, excelled in Montreal's corporate world. She retired two years ago, but the freedom of an open schedule quickly became more of a nuisance than a luxury.
With tons of experience managing large corporate functions and teams of employees, her expertise won't be used in the kitchen - even though Blackwood can surely handle the heat.
"I've never done anything like this in my life before, and I guess sometimes I wonder, 'Why the heck did I do it?' But quite frankly seeing everyone here tonight, I know why I did," said Blackwood, 68, to a standing-room-only crowd at The Grand Hotel's grand opening on April 25.
South Glengarry's new country chic resto/bar boasts a modern rural flair, as presented in its massive front entrance and quaint signage. Inside The Grand Hotel, is a 2,500 sq. ft. restaurant and bar area, accentuated by its warm and inviting hardwood features. The open concept, seating 140, leads to a large patio with a capacity for 90, which is scheduled to be open in the upcoming weeks.
"It has not been an easy journey," she said. "The building was filled with problems, many that we didn't expect, and we managed to get over all of them."
The Grand Hotel serves three meals a day from an eclectic menu that is still being fine-tuned. Ranging from bar-food staples including burgers, wings, and finger foods, to fine dining plates featuring salmon and steak. High-end buffet nights (Ukrainian-themed, ribs, pulled pork, and fried chicken) are also in the mix, with prices varying from $14 - $24.
The food won’t be the only thing drawing in the crowds. Weekends will entertain with a variety of musical acts, appealing to different age groups. Cornwall’s Trench Town Oddities rocked the grand opening. And Blackwood says it’s only the beginning.
“Already, The Grand Hotel is becoming a community hub,” she said.
Blackwood says customers have commented that it’s hard to stop in without seeing a familiar face.
MPP Jim McDonell and South Glengarry Mayor Ian McLeod attended the grand opening for a ceremonial ribbon cutting and to hand out congratulatory certificates.
“The Grand Hotel is certainly a welcome addition to the growing business community in Martintown,” said McLeod. “On behalf of council, I would like extend our congratulations to Marilyn and her team, and wish them the best success in this new venture.”
The history of the building charmed Blackwood into the business venture. She noted that the origins of The Grand Hotel date back to the late 1800s, when it was a hotel and the first stagecoach stop on the route from Montreal to Toronto. But Blackwood’s personal touch will help bring the historical site into a new age. And her passion for decorating will be front and centre during each holiday.
The opening of The Grand Hotel also adds to the recent momentum in Martintown’s business community.
“Martintown’s going through a bit of a rejuvenation,” said Blackwood.
The establishment runs six days a week (closed on Mondays): Tuesdays and Wednesdays 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Thursdays 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays 8 a.m. to 2a.m., and Sundays 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The Grand Hotel is located at 18526 Dundas Street in Martintown. For more information, call (613) 528-0111.