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A pearl of a place: 1880s hotel coming back to life

Billy Longo calls himself a history buff who wanted to do something new for The Square in Pilot Point.

He ended up buying property south of The Square next to Lowbrows Beer and Wine Garden. He bought the property formerly known as the Tipton Hotel, which was built in 1885, to refurbish and transform into The Ruby Pearl Hotel, which he hopes can open early next year.

“It’s going to be a fun place,” Longo said. “It’s going to be where you come and hang out with family, spend time, have drinks, eat, visit with friends. We’ll have some activities. The main thing is, on weekends, it will be a place to come and dance.”

Longo, who operates First in Firetricks LLC in Pilot Point, gave a tour of the building where he plans a four-room hotel, restaurant and bar. He purchased the building and property from Mike Holt of Pilot Point last month. Longo declined to give the price.

The land he bought extends to the railroad tracks. Longo hopes to put a future parking lot there.

Donna Stephens will be the hotel operations manager.

“I think it’s great Billy wanted to do something,” Stephens said.

The town needs something like The Ruby Pearl Hotel, she said, explaining it will be great and retirement parties. venue for weddings, parties “Pretty much what it’s going to be is a hotel,” Longo said. “It’s going to have a bar; it’s going to have a four-star restaurant in it with a real chef.” The restaurant will be a place for dining for everyday occasions.

The restaurant will serve breakfast and lunch Monday through Wednesday, and Thursday through Saturday there will be the full-blown restaurant in the evenings. On Sunday, people can drop by for brunch. Longo’s business will offer a full bar, cigar room, shoeshine stand, fireplace in the restaurant, pavilion with a dance floor and a stage with live music. A new roof will be added, and a fence will be erected.

Chandeliers inside the hotel lobby will add to the “old-time feeling,” Longo said. The backyard will be landscaped with flowers and trees. The hotel’s four bedrooms with full bathrooms will be upstairs, and the dining room wi l l seat around 100-120. Longo said the city will allow him to put mini-cabins in the back. He would like to get the hotel on a national registry as a historic hotel.

“We’re trying to put it as close back to the original hotel as possible,” he said. Longo said the city is working with him because officials “really want to see this as kind of an anchor to The Square.”

People from all over the state and outside Texas are already booking to stay at the hotel, Longo said.

And there’s one other aspect of the hotel that makes it stand out. “The place is haunted with a ghost, which is pretty cool,” Longo said, noting the ghost’s name is Bess and a play has been written about the ghost, which originates in the 1800s. Speaking of a presence, Stephens likes what the hotel can do for downtown.

“We need The Square to start – what’s the word I’m looking for?” Stephens said. “Waking up,” Longo said, finishing her thought. “All these empty buildings,” she said. “It’s just sad.”

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