Xanterra's Grand Depot Café gets a $1.8 million makeover

A sharp-looking chef waits to serve a hungry visitor. Ryan Williams/WGCN

A sharp-looking chef waits to serve a hungry visitor. Ryan Williams/WGCN

After about two months and $1.8 million in renovations, the new and improved Grand Depot Café reopened for business March 13.

Jeff D'Arpa, general manager of resort operations, said the remodel was necessary after 10-12 years in the original building.

"The buffet was outdated, the furniture was outdated, and the kitchen was outdated so it was due for a renovation and we wanted to make it as high tech and modern as we possibly could," he said. "We wanted to make it a more efficient experience for the guest."

The remodel includes new flooring, furniture, a fresh coat of paint on the walls and ceiling and a remodeled kitchen and bathrooms.

The buffet was also relocated for a more functional layout. Management chose the design from about 20 different layouts.

"The primary idea was to get it so that we could feed the guests from behind the buffet without having to come out and move somebody in line," D'Arpa said. "The buffet works very well for us, it's easier for people to get in and out without worrying about missing the train."

Construction on the café started Jan. 6.

"The last day of Polar Express, the last breakfast, we served 900 people for breakfast in here, and by the evening we had the entire place starting to be torn apart," D'Arpa said.

Before the renovation, the café had a red floor, country tables and a dark ceiling.

Now, the café has new carpet that contains recycled materials, new furniture stamped with the Grand Canyon Railway logo and a cream-colored ceiling.

In addition, the kitchen is now larger and contains high tech cooking equipment. The bathrooms now contain dual-flush toilets, waterless urinals and automatic faucets.

The orange and red paint on the café walls were inspired by colors in the Grand Canyon.

Large color photographs of the Grand Canyon hang on the walls. A piece of a train also decorates the café.

"Obviously we're here for the train but the destination is the Grand Canyon," D'Arpa said, adding that historical black and white photos of the railroad industry are also important to the design. "We're kind of tying it all in together."

The Grand Depot Café is at 233 N. Grand Canyon Blvd.

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