Here's the good news: Only days after the Clermont Hotel was condemned by county health inspectors for a staggering array of gag-inducing infractions, work began to clean up and restore the 1920s-era building for future operation as a newly renovated hotel, complete with a restaurant.
Here's the bad news: The company that's apparently doing the renovation and will manage the property, Cobb-based Kronos Hotels, has one of the worst reputations in the entire industry.
In fact, it's already off to a bad start. Although work began on the hotel in early January as evidenced by the huge dumpster for construction debris out front it appears that nobody bothered to get a building permit. A spokesperson for the planning department confirmed to me earlier today that the work going on at the hotel was violation of city ordinance and that a stop-work order would be issued soon, if it hadn't been already.
Alright, so what makes Kronos such a disreputable outfit? I'd never heard of the company before last week, but it seems a good rule of thumb that if, when your name is Googled, the first items that come up are watchdog websites and news articles about how you can't seem to pay your bills, you've got some problems.
The watchdog site, www.kronoshotelsllc.com, and its affiliated message board contain enough insidery dirt to choke a bedbug, but they also provide links to dozens of newspaper articles about company's disputes with employee unions, creditors and municipal governments.
For instance, just days before Kronos began work on the Clermont, it lost a $60 million hotel property in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to foreclosure. And in late 2008, employees of a Kronos-owned Days Inn in Dothan, Ala., picketed the hotel because their paychecks bounced.
We would've asked Kronos CEO Charles Morais for his side of the story, but the company's phone number doesn't seem to work. Hell, Kronos doesn't even seem to have a website. Most of what I know about the company's history came from this Atlanta Business Chronicle article. Even the folks from Fairway Capitol, the New York investment firm that now owns the Clermont Hotel, declined to tell to me.
Now, I know what you're thinking: "Stop talking about hotel chains and tell us what's going on with the Clermont Lounge!" Actually, nothing's going on with the lounge. I spoke to the managers and they said it's business as usual, no changes planned. In other words, no news is good news.
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