Business, Featured, Local News

Killington Road sees business renovations, redevelopment and welcomes new owners By Katy Savage

Killington Resort executives and key team members wore hard hats for the ceremonial ground breaking of the new K-1 lodge this summer. Construction will continue through this winter and summer with the lodge expecting to open for the beginning of the 2020-2021 season.

With Killington Resort investing millions of dollars in summer and winter activities, a number of business owners on Killington Road are following with upgrades and changes to their buildings.

Some business owners have invested heavily into summer offerings with the rise in the resort becoming a year-round destination.

“Everyone in the business (industry) does a direct percent of what the resort does,” said Chris Karr, the owner of a number of restaurants. “It’s going to bring more traffic by our doors and create more opportunities for us.”

Karr expanded a deck at Charity’s this summer to seat 30 people outside.

“It’s an exciting time period,” said Karr. “We had a number of factors happen up here over the past few years. We’ve seen great management with the resort now…it’s made a lot of us more competitive in the marketplace.”

Lookout Tavern owner Phil Black also invested in summer seating by installing a covered upper deck at his restaurant over the summer.

“It’s been a project we’ve wanted to do for 15 years,” said Black, who took inspiration for his deck while pub crawling a number of restaurants during a visit in the Carolinas.  “We just haven’t had summer business to make that type of commitment. We waited and waited and waited and business in the summer’s been growing and growing. We felt like last summer was the year to do that.”

The new deck, open in the spring, summer and fall, seats about 50 people.

Mountain biking continues to grow at the resort, with an estimated 30,000 visits last year and summer events are on the rise, but  Killington Resort has also invested in winter activities. Last year, it announced guests would notice impacts of a number snowmaking improvements sister mountain, Pico, this year.  A new $29 million K-1 Lodge at the resort was also announced last year. Constructionwill continue until it’s complete by next winter.

“It’s still happening little by little,” said Killington Resort Communication/PR & Social Media Manager Courtney DiFore.

The 58,000 square-foot building will be three stories high, with a full service bar and floor to ceiling windows.

“This is a significant step in fulfilling our vision to transform the way guests experience and enjoy Killington for years to come,” said Killington Resort President and General Manager Mike Solimano in a news release.

The resort has invested about $60 million dollars in improvements in the last two years.

“We have big plans for Killington moving forward that will continue to solidify us as the Northeast’s hub for year-round adventure,” Solimano said.

Some business owners are taking advantage of the resort’s future plans by investing now.

Robert “Sal” Salmeri, the owner of Moguls Sports Pub and Restaurant,  bought the Killington Mall for $475,000 at an auction on May 21, calling it a “pet project” of his.

“I loved the building and it was killing me to see it closed and not run properly,” Salmeri said. “I decided to try to take it on and try to make something of it. It’s part of this town big time.”

Salmeri spent the summer upgrading the 22,500 square foot building. The exterior has been painted and the interior has new floors and new infrastructure.

Salmeri is opening a new restaurant—the Nite Spot—featuring wood fired pizza, salads and deserts—in the former Outback Pizza.  Another new restaurant, Taco X, will replace the Killington Diner in the same building. There will be a clothing store, a DJ upstairs and an arcade at the entrance. The Killington Mall will be open year round.

“I’m looking for great pizza (and) a great family atmosphere,” Salmeri said.

There have also been real estate changes on Killington Road.

The Mountain Inn and Sante Fe restaurant, now under new ownership, is under a full renovation. New owner Caroline Wise plans to open the inn in early 2020 and a distillery is planned for the former Santa Fe restaurant area.

“I grew up skiing up here for the past 18 years,” said Wise. “When this property came for sale it seemed to be correct fit.”

While there have been many investments, Killington saw changes in the hospitality businesses that decreased hotel room for this ski season.

The Butternut Inn closed June 15 and was turned into a dorm room for Castleton University students. The Highline Lodge also closed to guests with an ownership change in November. The 13-room lodge will available for rent via Airbnb in December.

“It’s such a great area and there’s so much happening here with all the developments,” new Highline Lodge owner Kristin Zajac said.

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