New partnership brings life to Hibbing hotel's 1920s ballroom
BoomTown and Trellis Co. are teaming up to provide a new space for catered events.
HIBBING — BoomTown owners Jessica and Erik Lietz are partnering with Trellis Co. to retrofit the 1920s ballroom of the historic Androy Hotel into an event space, expanding their catering abilities with a new commissary kitchen.
The Androy Hotel is owned by Trellis Co. , a nonprofit Twin Cities-based developer, manager and owner of affordable housing, such as the Androy Apartments located on the upper level of the building.
BoomTown Brewery & Woodfire has locations in Duluth, Eveleth and Hibbing, in addition to The Whistling Bird , a Caribbean-inspired restaurant in Gilbert.
Trellis Co. reached out to BoomTown owners to partner on its vision to bring the ballroom back to what it was historically. A 1920s chandelier will also be installed in what was formerly known as the Crystal Lounge.
Through April, the Hibbing Elks Club will continue Wednesday bingo nights downstairs until BoomTown takes over the space in May. The space is anticipated to be ready to host events by June, and already has several bookings, Jessica Lietz said.
"We are thrilled to partner with Boomtown Brewery for this exciting community and event space where community members can come together to connect and build relationships," Trellis Co. President Elizabeth Flannery said in a statement. "We are excited to continue to preserve the building in the community and look forward to continued updates, including the relighting of the historic Androy sign."
The main ballroom seats up to 200 people, with an adjacent room that seats the same amount. Trellis Co. will make renovations such as custom plaster work, flooring, paint and additional kitchen updates, while BoomTown will furnish the space and supply equipment needed for catering and events.
Since Trellis Co. specializes in affordable housing, Jessica Lietz said it will rely on BoomTown to operate the event and kitchen space.
Jessica Lietz first began working in the hospitality industry as a hostess at age 17. An electrician by trade, Erik Lietz also previously co-owned Bay View Lodge on Lake Vermilion. While she attended dental school, the couple decided to shift gears.
"There is just something about this industry. We both found something we connected with and that we were good at," she said.
After opening the Bird, we wanted to open a second restaurant. The Bird was my baby.
When Jessica Lietz was growing up, her mother had two jobs and worked at The Whistling Bird. Eventually, the restaurant closed and was vacant for years. The city of Gilbert considered demolishing the building, which she said sparked an interest in the property that previously served as a hotel and boarding house. Residents missed the former restaurant, so Lietz reopened The Whistling Bird in 2013.
"After opening the Bird, we wanted to open a second restaurant. The Bird was my baby. We were running it together and wanted to take on one more," Lietz said.
In 2015, they opened BoomTown in Eveleth, and it took off. The restaurant offered something different than was available to the area at the time. Its upscale casual fare provided "a little something for everyone," from burgers, wings and cheese curds, to made-from-scratch pasta and hand-cut steaks," Jessica Lietz said.
"It was so busy and so much more successful than we anticipated. It was well-received by the community," she said. "One day when it was crazy busy and we hadn't had a day off in six months, we were approached by the bank that owned the old Zimmy's Bar and Restaurant location."
The building on East Howard Street was previously the site of the old trolley car depot in Hibbing and connects to The Whistling Bird by rail. With its high ceilings and garage doors, Jessica Lietz said it looked like a great place to start a brewery.
In 2017, the Hibbing BoomTown location opened. The couple hired brewmaster Dennis Holland, who is well-known among beer connoisseurs for developing the award-winning Edmund Fitzgerald Porter for Great Lakes Brewing Co. in Cleveland. Holland continues to work for the Lietzes, brewing beer in Hibbing that is delivered to all the other BoomTown locations, including the Androy and The Whistling Bird.
The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the opening of Duluth's BoomTown location until 2021. Now, the couple is ready to ramp up their catering and event services. Jessica Lietz said the partnership with Trellis Co. to revitalize the 1920s ballroom of the historic Androy Hotel comes at a good time.
"Catering is something we've been talking about for years, but we've been too busy opening restaurants to get to it. Catering is something we've slowly built on year after year, and we've catered a few events. The struggle in the past is that the kitchens are already busy for what we're doing in-house," Jessica Lietz said.
The Androy Hotel building has a commissary kitchen where BoomTown can work from to cater customized and standard menus for lunch and dinner buffets, plated dinners or boxed meals.
Catering is something we've been talking about for years, but we've been too busy opening restaurants to get to it.
Throughout all their locations, the Lietzes employ 150 people, and will add 50 positions ranging from management to bartending, and everything in between.
"We are hiring for the Androy, and all of our locations as we head into the busier season," Jessica Lietz said.
History of the Androy Hotel
Otherwise known as the "Grand Hotel of Northern Minnesota" for a half-century, the historic Androy Hotel located at 592 E. Howard St., across from Hibbing's BoomTown, was once central to much of the region's political, commercial and social activity, according to the National Register of Historic Places Inventory.
The Androy was named after Roy Quigley and Andrew Doran, officers in the Quigley-Doran Hotel Co. that managed it, according to the National Register of Historic Places Inventory. Today, the four-story Renaissance revival-style building exterior appears much as it did when it opened June 30, 1921, with its red tapestry brick, Indiana Bedford stone trim, and diamond-mosaic brick patterning on the fourth story.
Inside, piers and beams of dark-stained hardwood embellished the lobby opposite of the grand staircase, which led to public rooms upstairs and to the ballroom downstairs. The hotel featured 142 rooms, a main dining room, three private dining rooms, reception rooms, sample rooms and shops. It was also home to Red Cross offices and the Chamber of Commerce, according to the register.
The Androy Hotel was built in 1921 by Charles F. Haglin & Sons under the direction of Oliver Mining Co. during the relocation of Hibbing from its original site a mile north of the present city, according to the National Register of Historic Places Inventory.
The register says Oliver Mining Co. acquired the mineral rights of the land and had a significant impact on Hibbing's present appearance.
"It's kind of why we're all here, right? These towns all blew up around the mining era," said Jessica Lietz.
When the original site of the city was platted in 1893, Hibbing had a population of 326 people, according to the National Register of Historic Places Inventory. The first ore left by rail to Lake Superior two years later.
Ore mining became the economic mainstay of the community. By 1916, mining tax revenues provided $2.5 million toward public and civic improvements to the city.
By 1920, what began as a mining camp had grown to over 15,000 people. The fairly-established original community of Hibbing included a city hall, banks, library, district courthouse and residences. The city council accepted the proposal to move the town to the south in 1918 in order to mine the ore underneath.
Oliver Mining Co. owned most of the lots and buildings in an eight-block area of present-day Hibbing by 1921. The Androy Hotel was among the buildings erected for resale or long-term lease between 1919 and 1925 in the town's new site, according to the National Register of Historic Places Inventory. The mining company underwrote most of the costs of construction of these buildings, most of which was completed by Charles F. Haglin & Sons.
A statement from the Quigley-Doran Hotel Co. that was published in Chicago's National Hotel Reporter in 1927 said the Androy hotels in Hibbing and Superior , despite having the same name, were separate, unrelated business ventures.
The Androy Hotel in Hibbing eventually went bankrupt following the fall of the iron ore mining economy. The building was purchased by the city and remained vacant for some time after it closed Nov. 30, 1977.