BY JEFF CLARK
One of the most well-known and controversial chefs landed in Starkville on Wednesday to help a local hotel get out of the red and into the black. Gordon Ramsay, who is known for his spicy vocabulary and passion for projects bearing his name, is in Starkville to help the owners of the Hotel Chester to turn the downtown hotel into a profitable business. The Hotel Chester will be featured in an upcoming episode of Ramsay’s FOX series, “Hotel Hell.”
“After more than a decade of running restaurants in some of the world’s top hotels, Gordon Ramsay knows firsthand the crucial importance of surpassing guests’ highest expectations,” said Joanna Wolff of Ramsay’s production company, One Potato Two Potato. “Last year’s first season of ‘Hotel Hell’ was the biggest unscripted network hit of the summer, and now Gordon Ramsay is back for a second season, hitting the road to fix some of America’s most horrendous hotels, troubled inns and struggling resorts, many of which are on the brink of closure. Gordon will travel from coast to coast of the USA, and one of his stops is the Hotel Chester in Starkville.”
According to the City of Starkville’s website, the Hotel Chester was constructed in 1925 and it is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. But the hotel has changed hands many times through the years, including a stint as the Ivy Guesthouse with Starkville developer Spencer Bailey attached. But David Mollendor, who has owned the hotel since Dec. 29, 2000, said it is not living up to its full potential.
“We were contacted by a casting agency about being on the TV show,” Mollendor said. “This place has never lived up to its potential, in my view. And I don’t know why. I’ve been in the hotel business my entire professional career. Last year we were rated one of the best hotels in Mississippi by Mississippi Magazine. It’s not like we have a whole lot of warts. But there’s something wrong. I’m looking forward to some world-class professional coming here and telling us what we can do to make it better.”
With 36 rooms and a full-service restaurant, Mollender said he’s hoping Ramsay’s knowledge will help keep the rooms filled, especially once Mississippi State football has ended.
“Anytime the university is packed, the local hotels will be full,” Mollendor said. “This year, that’s 14 days out of 365 — maybe 20-25 days if we are lucky. Frankly, I’m excited about having the opportunity to work with Chef Ramsay.”