Reality show’s presence boosts biz in Murphys

Gordon Ramsay and the ‘Hotel Hell’ crew finished their remodel of a portion of the Murphys Historic Hotel, and the economic benefits are already apparent.

The production company for the popular Fox reality TV show, ‘Hotel Hell,” took on the overwhelming task of remodeling the dining room, lobby and rooms Saturday, and by Tuesday, the work still wasn’t done and help was needed.

“We got a call on Tuesday from the production company,” said Tom Danielsen owner of Angels Camp-based Danielsen Construction and Energy Management. “We had some meetings (and then) we were helping out the production crew, there was too much work for them.”

Danielson and his crew worked all night long with the production crew.

Even though it was only a day of work, Danielsen appreciated the business.

“Things (in the construction world) are slow and steady,” he said. “We’re not working a full week these days.”

The reality TV show put dollars in the hands of county construction workers and business owners alike, but it also drew in Gordon Ramsay fans from outside the county.

“I was expecting to see a lot of locals,” said Chuck Hovey, who had dinner at the hotel during filming sessions. “After talking to people, about 90 percent of them were from out of town and were fans who filled out the lottery.”

Passport Weekend, a Calaveras Winegrape Alliance event, and the chance to see a celebrity at the Murphys Historic Hotel helped business owners like Hovey, who owns Hovey Winery with his wife Jan, boost revenue over the past week.

Along with adding record profits to business books, many visitors went home with good vibes about Murphys and the county.

“I can’t tell you how many people came up to me and said, ‘You have a really nice town here’ after they found out (my wife and I) were locals,” Hovey said.

Another business that saw an increase in sales directly related to the TV show was Aria bakery.

Aria Manager Maura Flaherty thought the production was “a lot of fun” and a marked increase of business from the production crew.

She supplied the crew with boxes of pastries each morning and snacks and drinks throughout the day.

Tourists and the television crew filled up hotels surrounding Murphys last weekend to further a countywide payoff that only cost an initial tongue-lashing from Ramsay.

“(Working with Ramsay) was challenging, but overall beneficial,” said Joel Lacitignola, co-owner of the Murphys Historic Hotel.

Although Ramsay’s ideas of how to improve the hotel remain unknown, Hovey believes no changes should be made to the food.

“My dinner was one of the best ones I have ever had at the hotel,” Hovey said. “If (the production crew) were looking for someone to start spouting off, they needed to find a different table.”

The hotel was expected to open for dinner last night and will resume its normal business functions today, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The construction crews, who started Saturday, had to hustle to make sure the job got finished.

“Everything had a timeline and everything was crazy,” Danielsen said. “Everyone was working like mad when I left.”

In the end, despite the hectic nature of a five-day, large-scale construction project, this was just an affirmation of the job many production companies finish to create makeover TV shows.

“It’s real life that people do this overnight,” Danielsen said. “You don’t have a week to finish the job, you just go in and get it done in a short period of time. I was happy with it; the final product was good.”

Hotel owners hope the infusion of new ideas and capital upgrades Ramsay gifted their business will have a countywide positive economic impact.

“It was our intention to help the hotel and also to bring light to Murphys and to all of Calaveras,” Lacitignola said. “We’re not just in it for ourselves; we want to see the community thrive also.”

Contact Lucas Youngblood at lucas.calent@gmail.com.

Contact Lucas Youngblood at lucas.calent@gmail.com.

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