Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Co., which owns the lodge, will be completely renovating the restaurant beginning Jan. 2.
The new bistro-style concept, which will introduce a breakfast menu, is set to open around mid-March, said Fred Hansen, director of food and beverage for Hershey Lodge.
“I think this is going to be a huge success for us,” Hansen said of the project, which will cost more than $400,000.
The goal is to create a more open and comfortable environment for patrons, he said.
“A diner is way too simple to describe it, but it will have that type of feel,” he said. “You’re going to see what’s going on around you and the activity there.”
The project has been in the works for about a year, Hansen said. It was driven by feedback from customers — many of whom felt the space was too confined.
During construction, the Hershey Grill lunch menu will be served Monday through Friday and the dinner menu served daily in Lebbie Lebkicher’s, another restaurant at Hershey Lodge.
The lodge has five in-house dining areas plus a pool grill. Together they feed about 1.1 million people per year, Hansen said.
“I think it’s definitely a plus for the lodge,” he said of the renovation, which also will add a bar area.
The Hershey Grill will have all new wall coverings and lighting, and it will undergo other décor changes.
“It’s going to look completely different,” Hansen said.
The restaurant will retain its current seating of about 100, plus another 50 to 60 on its summer patio.
The menu also will be comparable, while including some old favorites that recently returned, he said. Those include items like corn and crab chowder and coconut chicken salad.
“Our goal is to, whenever possible, use items that are native or produced in Central Pennsylvania,” Hansen said. “The food is going to be recognizable. You’re not going to need a five-line description. Whether it’s meatloaf, a steak or a chop, or a seafood preparation, it’s going to be food you are comfortable with.”
The breakfast menu will serve up traditional fare with a Hershey twist, he said, citing a build-your-own omelet option.