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Patels find corporate home in the Village at Hendrix

Posted: January 2, 2014 - 7:26pm
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The newly developed Market Square South will be the new home of Conway Management, Inc., which will take up occupancy between the new Delta Trust Bank and Purple Cow restaurant.
The newly developed Market Square South will be the new home of Conway Management, Inc., which will take up occupancy between the new Delta Trust Bank and Purple Cow restaurant.

Conway Management Inc. will be the tenant of the office space situated between the Purple Cow and Delta Trust bank in the newly developed Market Square South, currently under construction in the Village at Hendrix.

Conway Management Inc. is the company of long-time Conway hotel owner and operator Ken Patel. Patel moved to Conway in 1982 with the purchase of his first hotel — the Continental Inn on Harkrider Street.

Since then, he has built and sold the Economy Inn and Days Inn on Oak Street and the Quality Inn on Skyline Drive, originally a Comfort Inn. He also once owned the Exxon gas station and America’s Best Value Inn on Oak Street, formerly a Ramada Inn.

Patel is still president of the company, but in recent years he has semi-retired, allowing his son Umang to take on more responsibility as vice president.

When Patel first moved to Conway, Umang was a baby. At the age of 15 he began working with his father in the hospitality industry. Umang took a break from the family business to attend college at the University of Central Arkansas, receiving a degree in finance and information systems.

After working in IT for five years, Umang returned to Conway Management Inc., so his father could retire. Today, the Patel’s own Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Comfort Inn & Suites, Comfort Suites and Candlewood Suites. With their current headquarters and offices in the Comfort Inn & Suites. They also own a few properties outside of Conway.

Owning and operating hotels is the Patel’s primary business, but they also own land, and are going to get into the restaurant management business with their latest venture How Do You Roll? The Custom Sushi Shop, being added to the first phase of the Village at Hendrix on Altus Road.

Ward Davis, CEO of the Village at Hendrix, said the Village is opening up the office component in addition to restaurant and retail space to give the neighborhood as a whole a good mix of retail, residential and office.

Umang said the company chose to partner with the Village because it is a great, centralized location, close to all of their hotels.

How Do You Roll? is a fast-casual, sushi shop that offers customizable sushi rolls using fresh, healthy ingredients in addition to traditional sushi options.

“We want to have a nice broad mix of restaurant offerings from local to international, casual to formal and quick and easy, to more expensive and more sit down,” Davis said.

Conway Management Inc.’s corporate office space will serve as its “back of the house business,” Umang said. There won’t be a place for customers or guests. The space is solely for internal operations.

“It will get us out of day to day to focus on the bigger picture,” Umang said, “and we’ll have a direct view to the restaurant from there.”

Umang said the company is still recovering from a down economy, and he doesn’t see any new hotels being built in the near future, but with the Central Landing redevelopment at Cantrell Field and two colleges without a hotel, it’s a possibility.

The Patels have talked about doing a similar project to what the University of Memphis in Memphis Tenn., has with a college of hospitality and resort management integrated in an operational hotel on campus, Umang said.

“The biggest challenge I see, would be bringing in the business to support that,” he said, “but we’re always interested in thinking outside the box and partnering with a college or big developer.”

Davis said Hendrix College has talked about a potential hotel and/or conference center, but there’s nothing currently on the table.

For now, Umang says, he’s excited to be part of the Village at Hendrix crowd, and he’s excited about working among his other partners on the first floor of Market Square South.

(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at michelle.corbet@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1215. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)

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