New hotel hopes to cash in on gamblers

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The palm trees and colored lights from the Hotel California are creating quite a buzz from motorists traveling in the area of Interstate 80 and state Route 46.

The man behind the concept is a familiar face and name: Attorney and businessman Sebastian Rucci. His previous project at the site, the Go-Go Cabaret, had its liquor license pulled and was forced to close amid allegations of drug use and prostitution.

But Rucci said that he has put all that behind him and invested upwards of $4 million to create a new 24-7 entertainment destination.

“The thing about the Go-Go, it was just one of those bad decisions that you kind of just move on from,” Rucci said.

He was all smiles on Wednesday as he showed off his new project, Hotel California. It was room after room of colored lights and music. Soon, there will be live entertainment.

“The other hotels don’t have that. There is a lot of great hotels. This hotel that actually will entertain you when you stay,” Rucci said.

Rucci invested $4 million to renovate the old Economy Inn and Suites. He surrounded himself with professionals and solid connections in the local music and entertainment scene.

“Music, comedy, all this together, this town has not seen anything like this in several years, several decades,” said John Batcho, entertainment director for the hotel’s music division.

“If it’s comedy, or if it’s music, or if it’s a game night situation, we’re going to have a lot of things going on here all the time,” said Dave Robich, entertainment director for the hotel’s comedy division.

There are 60 single rooms and 42 larger suites, with views of fountains and fake palm trees. About 250 speakers pump jazz or calypso music through the rooms and hallways.

“Instead of having a swimming pool, which we could have done, we wanted a room with just jacuzzis,” Rucci said.

Rucci and his team hope to cash in on the crowds coming to the new racino, which opens next month. But along with revenue, Rucci said it’s also about redemption from the Go-Go days.

“I think it will mend a lot of fences, which I think is a plus, I certainly would like that. I have been very bad at how I have done that and now with some of the professionals I have surrounded myself with, I am learning more about how this town works,” Rucci said.

“And I think he realizes that he is glad he is not in that business anymore, that he is in a business now that is going to be great for this community of Austintown,” Robich said.

Hotel California should be open in late September or early October.

Rucci said there is still one appeal in the courts over the liquor license for the property, but they hope to have that settled soon. All the construction is being done by local workers and using local supplies.

Hotel California could employ approximately 40 people when everything is up and running.

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