Phased renovation in the works for Grass Valley’s historic Holbrooke Hotel |

Phased renovation in the works for Grass Valley’s historic Holbrooke Hotel

Jordan Fife, the new owner of the Holbrooke Hotel in downtown Grass Valley, will renovate the historic building in stages.
Photo by Liz Kellar/lizk@theunio

California Klondike.

That’s the aesthetic mash-up new owner Jordan Fife is shooting for with his planned renovation of Grass Valley’s historic Holbrooke Hotel, with decor ranging from pure kitsch to more authentic pieces and even modern interpretations of a Western theme.

That renovation will roll out in stages, however, with Fife shooting to be done in six months.

The hotel on West Main Street closed temporarily late last week, but Fife said the initial transition will be a quick one and he hopes to be open again by this Sunday.

“Definitely before Labor Day,” he said.

Initially, Fife said, he had simply planned on keeping the Holbrooke open pretty much as is during the beginning stages of his ownership.

“Then we figured, we might as well do it right from the beginning,” he said. “This hotel does have a following and we don’t want to alienate them — but we want to create a product we can be proud of.”

This week, the space will be spruced up with a “deep clean” and some reorganizing, but Fife said customers won’t see any major changes just yet.

“What people will notice first is the menu,” he said. “We are re-doing the bar menu, and we’re planning a temporary restaurant menu with farm-to-table pub food.”

Fife has tapped the expertise of Michael Worth, who has worked with him in the past in Palm Springs, to revamp the offerings at the Golden Gate Saloon.

Worth said the bar will continue to offer an array of mixed drinks and domestic beers, with the addition of local craft beers and a trimmed-down wine list.

He is curating specialty cocktails in keeping with the Holbrooke’s storied past, he said.

“There’s so much history to this hotel, what I love about it is its resilience,” Worth said, citing its resurrection from the ashes after two separate fires as the inspiration for “When the Smoke Clears,” a cocktail with a smoky mezcal base.

The “Miner’s Little Lady” will feature bourbon, agave, a ginger syrup and lemon, exemplifying a drink menu he calls “fun, easy and accessible, but interesting.”

Creating a brand

Fife also is in the midst of a major renovation of Nevada City’s iconic National Hotel after purchasing it this spring — but has had to pivot somewhat to get the Holbrooke back up and running as quickly as possible.

“There’s no breathing room,” he said, citing the desire to be considerate of the local market. “We can’t have this hotel closed. I want to keep this as short a transition as possible. It’s an incredibly short turnaround.”

The hotel’s transformation will be carried out in stages.

Fife plans to start renovations at the Holbrooke immediately, he said, starting with the Purcell House in back of the main building.

“Once that’s done, we’ll start on the upstairs rooms, moving down,” Fife said. “The bar, lobby and restaurant will be last.”

One of the changes the hotelier is most excited about is the restoration of the saloon.

The bar used to span the entire length of the building, Fife explained, adding that he plans to restore that aspect, taking out the double doors that currently mark off the “library” to create one large bar and restaurant with courtyard seating. Live music will still be on tap, with Fife hoping to book a regular Sunday band.

The registration desk will be removed and that area will turn into a communal “hang-out” space with board games and musical instruments available.

“Guests will check in at the bar,” Fife said, “We’ll give them a glass of whiskey.”

This week, all the Holbrooke employees are in training, Fife said.

“We retained most of the old staff and added some new members,” he said. “We are still looking for some additional employees. We’re building a team, we’re trying to institute brand standards and really exemplify who we are as hoteliers.”

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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