Granada Hotel – Frank Léal’s boutique downtown Morgan Hill hotel is ready to go

Silicon Valley Business Journal

April 29, 2016

Downtown Morgan Hill is a step closer to getting a boutique hotel like nothing else in the South County.

Actually, make that the wider region, too.

Entrepreneur Frank Léal received city approval this week for an ambitious 60 guest-room project on the site of the old Morgan Hill “Downtown Mall” building at Monterey Road and First Street. Called the Granada Hotel, its pièce de résistance is a ground floor filled with a “market hall” of food and drink vendors, an upscale steakhouse, a wine bar and a flower shop.

“You’ll be able to go into the counter and order a steam bun. Or put a shirt and tie on and go over to my steakhouse. Or get fish and take it home and cook,” Léal said. “I’m building this for every demographic.”

The four-story project will be built adjacent to the Granada Theater, which Léal is also revitalizing into what he describes as a “rat-pack-style” dinner theater. Léal acquired both properties last year as the city’s former redevelopment agency sold off its holdings, a process I documented here.

City officials hope the hotel boosts a budding renaissance in Morgan Hill’s sleepy downtown, which is getting a burst of new businesses and restaurants, as I wrote back in March. That includes a shoe store-slash-taphouse and a quartet of restaurants — Willard Hicks, Tac-oh, Opa and Mo’s.

With the hotel, Léal is betting that the region’s hospitality demand is deep and diverse enough to support something different from the usual freeway-facing, business-travel-oriented select-service chain operators. But Léal says that wine and food tourism — and his existing strong brand — will make Granada Hotel a success.

“I’m putting my money where my mouth is,” he said.

Indeed, he’s not a newcomer to this marketplace. Léal’s other businesses include the Willow Heights Mansion wedding venue in Morgan Hill; Hacienda de Léal hotel in San Juan Bautista; the Grove farm-to-table restaurant in Hollister; his Deluxe floral design and event planning business; and two vineyards — Sycamore Creek Vineyards and Léal Vineyards in Morgan Hill and Hollister, respectively. The Granada Hotel’s amenities will bring together elements of all of those.

“I’m taking everything and sticking it in one location,” he said.

The hotel itself will include about 6,000 square feet of conference space on the second floor, a spa, vegetable garden on the roof and “communal outdoor living room.” The design is by KTGY, and parking is all off-site; Leal has a deal with the owner of a nearby lot to valet park all vehicles there.

Construction financing from Pinnacle Bank has been secured and Léal said construction should start by the end of the year.

As for the Granada Theater? That rehab is about 50 percent complete, he said. Léal expects plays, comedy shows, school events and corporate events will keep the venue busy. “We’re hoping to get some tech companies down south for product launches,” he said. “We built this cool stage, it’s all wired for different types of projectors, and we have a 12-foot by 18-foot LED wall.”

Leal knows it’s not the typical cookie-cutter development, and that, he says, is the whole point.

“I’m not a developer looking to knock down stuff to build stuff and pencil out,” he said. “I’m out to sell experences.”