New hotels, ownership changes on tap in Tupelo

By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Hotelier Bruce Patel has been busy this summer.
While running two hotels and three Tutti Frutti locations, he’s building two more hotels and renovating another lodging property.
“We’re moving full-steam ahead,” he said.
Plus, he recently bought the Rodeway Inn from Jimmy Pappas.
He’s also opening three more Tutti Frutti franchises around the state and he’s starting up Tupelo’s first hotel shuttle program.
The projects are in addition to his current properties in Tupelo – Comfort Suites and the Best Western Plus. He also owned the Howard Johnson, but in December, his company, Fusion Hospitality, demolished the buildings to make room for a Candlewood Suites and a Holiday Inn.
The site is at the intersection of McCullough Boulevard and North Gloster Street. “We’ve been doing a lot of underground work,” Patel said.
Crews have installed more than 300 piers to stabilize the ground. Last week, they were making the forms so they could pour the footings. He hopes to open both hotels next year.
Nearby, Patel is remodeling the former Microtel. The hotel currently is the Regal Inn and Suites on McCullough Boulevard. He hopes to reopen the 59-room hotel on Nov. 1 as a Comfort Inn.
Patel also has expanded his hotel empire to the other side of the intersection. Last month, he bought the Rodeway Inn & Suites from Jimmy Pappas. The hotel features Tupelo’s only guitar pool.
“Bruce is younger than me,” said Pappas, who has been in business since 1972. “He has more energy than me.”
Pappas still owns the Clarion Inn and The Summit Center. In December, he had all three listed for sale.
The Clarion Inn and the Summit Center – which includes a 65-room hotel and a separate conference center – in December was listed for $2.75 million. The 50-room Rodeway was listed for $1 million.
The two hoteliers didn’t disclose the sales price, but said they settled close to the asking price.
Pappas on Wednesday said the Clarion and The Summit Center are no longer for sale.
“My plans are changing too,” Pappas said. “At this time, this is as far as I want to go with it. … Those two buildings will keep me busy for a while.”
Patel is working on a transportation shuttle to service his hotels – a first for Tupelo. He hopes to have the shuttle running in August.
“It gives us a nice service that nobody else is offering,” he said. “It’s something people expect when they travel.”
carlie.kollath@journalinc.com