|The bar in Victor's Bistro|
Imagine my surprise to find evidence of this trend last week in Florence South Carolina. I was there doing some research looking at the potential for tourism development in the Pee Dee region, and I was blown over with what I found. I stayed at the Hotel Florence, a relatively new boutique hotel in the revitalized downtown district. The 49-bedroom hotel is made up of three of Florence’s historical buildings that have been renovated to create one space of 35,500 sq. ft. The old Schofield Hardware structure is the main hotel building, which includes the hotel lobby, guestrooms, and the hotel restaurant Victor’s Bistro.
Victor’s has been an integral part of the Florence community for almost 15 years. Awarded “Best of the Pee Dee: Fine Dining” for the past 8 years, Victor’s is recognized as one of the area’s most upscale and elegant restaurants. Tim Norwood, a native of Darlington, South Carolina, purchased Victor’s Bistro in 2003. Tim graduated from Francis Marion University with a degree in political science, and has been an active member of the Florence community for many years.
The restaurant moved into the Hotel Florence last May, bringing with it a host of experienced personnel including Steve Gibson as General Manager and George Floyd as Operations Manager. The pair were headhunted from Columbia where they had both been working for many years in the fine dining sector. “It’s really exciting to be here,” says Gibson. “People here say they are looking for a lot out of us all. We’re supposed to be the best. We’re doing this by taking advice from guests and improving the experience for everybody.” With a background at Columbia’s trendy Motor Supply Company and Ruth’s Chris, Floyd came to Victor’s last March to help with the renovation and transition. “It’s been really neat the number of local people who’ve come in and said ‘Gosh, we’ve come into New York City!’” says Floyd. “But when people from New York and Boston and Chicago come in and say the same thing, that’s when it really hits home.”
With its upscale décor and ambiance, first-rate food, mellow musical entertainments and meticulous service, Victor’s and the Hotel Florence are the cornerstone of the downtown revitalization project. Can’t wait to see how the forward-focused area progresses!