Construction has begun on 77-room Country Inn & Suites hotel at 250 N. Equity Drive near Exit 95 on Interstate 95.
The hotel will open in December, creating 20 full-time jobs and a few part-time positions, owner Dr. Raj Dhillon said. Hiring of local applicants will begin in October, he said.
The Smithfield hotel will be the first Country Inn & Suites along I-95 built using the company’s fourth-generation design, Dhillon said. The new brand is contemporary, Dhillon said, and it features trendy furnishings and decor usually found in luxury hotels.
“Pretty much everything is upgraded, from the bathrooms to entertainment equipment, the beds, lighting system, the color and decor,” he said. “I think it will be very comparable to some of the other, a little bit upscale brands.”
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Amenities will include wireless Internet, a heated indoor pool, a complimentary hot breakfast in the morning, fitness and media centers, a guest laundry room and a conference room. Dhillon described the price of a room as mid-scale.
The parking lot will offer quick-charging stations for guests to juice up their electric cars before heading back out onto the highway, Dhillon said. Charging will be free, he said, and drivers can either get a quick boost while eating at the hotel or leave their car to charge overnight.
The hotel will sit on a three-acre lot, Dhillon said, providing room for about 125 parking spaces and easy access for buses, trailers and motor homes.
Dhillon lives in Chesapeake, Va., and he owns another Country Inn & Suites in Emporia, Va. His daughter, Harman Dhillon, will manage the Smithfield location when it opens.
Dhillon also owns the Holiday Inn Express & Suites on North Equity Drive, which is around the corner from the new hotel. Business has gone well at the Holiday Inn since it opened in February 2012, Dhillon said, and that made him eager to invest even more in Smithfield.
“Smithfield is probably the best market from New York down to Florida,” he said. “It’s a one-stop shop for eating, lodging, shopping and entertainment. Everything is in walking distance, and it’s good for families, group tours and single travelers.”
A number of new businesses have opened in Smithfield since the first of the year, and more are on the way.
Smithfield’s Chicken ’N Bar-B-Q has filed plans to open a new restaurant at 120 Towne Center Place, near Golden Corral and Sheetz off of East Market Street. A company spokeswoman declined to give additional details. The restaurant traces its roots to 1964 in Smithfield, and it has since expanded to more than 30 locations in North Carolina.
Anna’s Gourmet Banana Nut Bread opened April 29 at 938 N. Bright Leaf Blvd., offering more than 25 varieties of sweet breads, including peanut butter and jelly, peach cobbler, hazelnut, pistachio, chocolate mint and the bakery’s signature banana nut bread. Owner Anna Marie Wade has been in business since 2011, and her products sell at Harris Teeter and ship to stores around the world. The store features samples and coffee. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
Simple Twist: The restaurant opened earlier this month at 227 E. Market St., a space most recently left vacant by Serendipity Road, another restaurant. It’s open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. The menu includes burgers, steaks, salads, sandwiches, seasonal seafood and rice bowls. For more information, call 919-938-0377 or visit SimpleTwistNC.com.
Fit 24 Fitness Center opened in February at 721-7 N. Bright Leaf Blvd. The gym features all-new exercise equipment, $25 monthly memberships without a contract and 24-hour access, seven days a week. For info: Facebook.com/Fit24Smithfield or 919-934-5151.
Simply Bliss Studio is a photography and portrait studio located at 108 S. Third St. For info: 919-279-8148 or Facebook.com/SimplyBlissPhotoStudio.
Carolina Premium Outlets: In the last couple of months, an Auntie Anne’s pretzel shop and The Apparel Group have opened. Later this spring, As Seen on TV will open, selling items marketed mostly through television infomercials. This summer, a Christopher and Banks women’s clothing store will open. For outlet info: 919-989-8757 or PremiumOutlets.com/carolina.
C&S Auto Sales is a buy-here, pay-here car lot that opened April 1 at 511 S. Bright Leaf Blvd. Owner Chasity Cotton, who had three cars on the lot as of April 16, said she can track down specific used cars for buyers. The business does not look at credit scores, Cotton said, and instead requires proof of income for financing.
All Insurance: After 10 years in Garner, All Insurance expanded in late January by taking over Clear Choice Insurance Agency at 322 N. Bright Leaf Blvd. The new owners provide home, auto, life and commercial coverage through more companies than the previous agency. Contact at 919-938-9713 or AllInsuranceNC.com.
Calico Jack Textbooks is open for business at 150 S. Equity Drive, the former location of N&N Sports Bar and Grill.