BY ROBERT L. BAKER
Wyoming County Press Examiner
Henry Stark probably would be shocked and thrilled in the same breath.
The man who designed the original Wall’s Hotel at the corner of Bridge and Tioga streets in 1844, would be pleased to see the lengths to which new owner Samir ‘Sunny’ Mehta has gone to make sure the Prince Hotel he purchased in 2010 remains a vibrant center of commerce in Tunkhannock.
Initial thoughts he could turn the key and operate as business as usual as the VanHorns had done in the previous 18 years got sidelined when the flood of 2011 hit Tunkhannock with a vengeance.
And, then Comfort Inn and Hampton Inn were added to the lodging mix of Tunkhannock to add to Mehta’s challenges.
So he went to the drawing board to see if the corner hotel that had grown up with Tunkhannock for nearly 170 years could carve a new niche for the next decade.
“I’m hoping Tunkhannock will like what we’ve done,” Mehta said Monday morning as he showed off some of the hotel’s finer spots.
And there are a lot of them.
For those who liked the giant exhaust fan that fronted Bridge Street, and kind of marked where the bar was, you will be disappointed that it’s gone.
The bar has more than doubled in size, and will have a separate room – which actually was the old bar – that will have a big screen TV for sports afficionados.
The restaurant has been redone and will sport menus offering local patrons both Italian and Mexican fare, something which Mehta said was not presently available downtown.
Mehta said he plans to offer menu fare on par with LaTolteca on the Mexican side and Alfredo’s on the Italian side, and breakfast will also available.
The ‘new’ Prince sports 22 hotel rooms each with its own lavatory, and one of the hotel rooms completely ADA-handicapped accessible.
Common areas feature a good bit of inlaid onyx and a white marble façade in the front along Tioga Street has a suggestion of quiet elegance.
Chandeliers add an upscale touch, and persons visiting for the first time can’t help but be impressed at the lengths that Mehta went to do the Prince upright.
“Sunny had some choices to make about what to keep and what to overhaul,” Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Maureen Dispenza said. “It’s obvious he is betting on the people coming downtown who will appreciate a completely new upgrade.”
For those who liked the old Prince’s grand stairs, they have survived, but they have been complemented by an elevator that can probably get you to where you’re going a lot faster.
On the second floor, patrons inviolved with a business conference will find the meeting room to their liking that features both big screen TVs and overhead projection as well as food service via a back stairs directed to the kitchen.
There’s wi-fi, and well you’ll just have to check it all out when it has a soft opening sometime by the end of May.
Mehta said his goal was to have the new Prince open by Tunkhannock’s Founders Day on June 22.
It seems a fair bet that the ghost of Henry Stark may be nearby to cast an approving 21st Century look.