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Riverside Hotel Opens the Sapphire Room

And the Owyhee Plaza gets a makeover under new ownership

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For those saddened by the seasonal closure of The Riverside Hotel's Greenbelt-hugging Sandbar restaurant, there's a glimmer of cold weather hope. The Riverside Hotel recently completed a renovation of its aging Club Max lounge, turning it into a swanky blues and jazz venue called the Sapphire Room.

"There were a lot of changes made, it used to be Club Max ... and now you wouldn't even recognize the room," said The Riverside Hotel's Rayanne Fries. "It's got a blue theme to it and they made a stage. The whole room is for listening to music, so everything was put together with the best sound quality in mind."

Though local jazz musician Kevin Kirk was on board to book music at the Sapphire Room, Fries confirmed he resigned.

"We're taking this small step back and analyzing where we're going to go in 2013 with it," said Fries. "We're still trying to get local and national acts in there."

On Nov. 29, the space hosted a getting-to-know-you event with 50 local musicians and songwriters. Fries hopes that event will help book more acts in the space.

The Sapphire Room, which has a 150-person sit-down capacity, will also offer a selection of snacks and a full bar.

"We have small plates so we have three mini Kobe brisket sandwiches, we have a veggie sandwich, osso bucco. ... I think when we have acts that don't require seating that we'll have a lighter menu," said Fries.

The Sapphire Room plans to be open regularly in early 2013, though Fries said the space is available for rentals.

And in other hotel revamp news, Boise native Clay Carley, who owns the Old Boise Sixth and Main development, has purchased the Owyhee Plaza Hotel, a downtown landmark since 1910.

Carley told Boise Weekly that the Owyhee's prime restaurant space, the now-shuttered Gamekeeper, is a "critical component to the revitalization."

The Gamekeeper Restaurant closed in May 2009, but Carley said while his first objectives are to bring the hotel's architecture "back to life" and bring "new energy" to the block, he is anxious to introduce a new eatery to downtown Boise.

Carley confirmed he was expecting to receive his first proposal from a potential restaurant operator "any day now."

"But I want to carefully scrutinize the candidates," he said. "Even if it takes me a year or two years, we want the right restaurant operator and the right theme."

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