New residents to revitalize Charleston

New residents to revitalize Charleston
By: Crystal Britt

Two men from California all but threw a dart on the map and wound up in Charleston, Missouri. They started a business and quickly found two other gems in town: the old Russell Hotel and the McCutchen Theater. Now, in less than a month people in Charleston will get a chance to take a step back in time.  
Hal Griffiths and Steven Boggs are like two kids in a candy store, although the candy's really big and expensive: to the tune of $6 million.  The first priority: re-opening the restaurant in the hotel, they'll serve... "Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We'll close between lunch and dinner and we'll have nicer silverware and nicer service for dinner," said Hal Griffiths. 
They're also putting in a salon and an ice cream parlor. Plus, they're bringing back the original night club in the basement of the hotel. 
"It closed in the 50's so we want to do a back-to-the-future type thing like it just closed and we opened it back up. It'll have a nice 50's look to it, it'll be fun," said Griffiths. 
Just up the road on East Commercial is the theater. Griffiths says from the moment he unlocked the door and went inside he thought..."This is just gorgeous." The theater dates back to 1947 and today needs a lot of tender-loving care, including a new roof and endless updates.
"It will be a retro theater, we'll show older movies, do our own film festivals, and live entertainment," said Griffiths. 
They project a grand opening at the theater in about a year and a half. The director of the Chamber of Commerce was excited about the plans from day one.
"We're thrilled with all their ideas. We're thrilled they've come to Charleston with a vision to help us to spur the area to a new level," said Claudia Arington. 
Griffiths says, "People go into this saying is this something you always wanted to do? I say no, I never even thought of it. It's here and it's just staring us in the face saying, do it, do it. So, we're doing it."
The owners hope when everything's complete they'll be able to employ around 200 people. The restaurant inside the hotel should be completed as early as next month, the other additions will follow. They also plan on adding suites with the hopes of making Charleston a destination for tourists.