In the January 2023 issue of Ohio Cooperative Living magazine, I wrote a story titled “First Impressions” about the opening of the new Hocking Hills State Park Lodge and Conference Center — the first new state park lodge to be built in Ohio in 31 years. As you’ll read below, the story drew a question from Doug Metz, asking about the size of the lodge’s restaurant (Rock House Restaurant and Pub) compared to the former dining lodge at the park. I had written that, while not required, reservations at the restaurant are highly recommended as the available seating fills up quickly.
Doug Metz, South Central Power Company
Q. Hi, Chip. We enjoyed your article in the January issue of Ohio Cooperative Living, and can attest to how busy the Hocking Hills Lodge restaurant is. I was wondering, did you happen to find out from Mr. Tucker or anyone else why the new dining room is substantially smaller than the old dining room?
A. Thanks for your question, Doug. I referred it to Todd Tucker, manager of Hocking Hills Lodge for reply, and here’s what he had to say:
“There were many people and factors involved in the new lodge’s design process and the decision to make the restaurant smaller; but the main reason was to make the space more ‘intimate,’ for lack of a better term, and more manageable. The previous lodge was known as a ‘dining lodge,’ and its sole focus was the 300-seat restaurant and banquet facilities for 500 on the exact same footprint of space that our new lodge was built. With the addition of the 81 lodge rooms, indoor and outdoor pools, café, grand lobby, etc., the dining and banquet facilities had to be scaled down.
“We’ve admittedly had some challenges with the restaurant capacity and being able to accommodate all our lodge and cabin guests, as well as the thousands of people who are not guests who have wanted to dine in our restaurant. The problem will be alleviated somewhat in the warmer months when we can seat guests on our outdoor terrace. We are also considering opening up our ballroom on busy weekends for a buffet dining option when the restaurant is at full capacity.”
An interesting sidenote Tucker mentioned is that the old Hocking Hills “dining lodge” was undergoing a major renovation in 2016 when it caught fire and burned down just prior to reopening. The fire caused by a construction welding accident. It was at that time the decision was made to build the new full-service lodge.