Did You Know?
The Jefferson Hotel was supposed to open on November 1, 1895, but at the last minute it was realized that November 1 was a Friday, and it was considered bad luck to start anything on a Friday. So the hotel was opened on Halloween instead.
From the time the hotel opened until 1937, rooms were just $1.50 per night. A room with a private bath was $1 more per night.
The Thanksgiving Day Dinner at the hotel in 1949 cost $2.50.
When Elvis stayed at the hotel in 1956, he brought his own television and the hotel manager was shocked that Elvis ate his bacon with his fingers.
In the mid 1950s, the hotel had a pink limousine to drive guests throughout the city.
The Jefferson has been in several movies including My Dinner with Andre (1981), First Kid (1996), HBO's Ironed Jawed Angels (2004), The American President (1995) and the recently discovered Rock and Roll Hotel (early 1980's).
Alligators once resided in marble pools in the Palm Court Lobby. Richmonders would vacation in Florida and bring the baby alligators home as pets. As they outgrew sinks and bathtubs, residents would bring them to live at The Jefferson. Tour the hotel’s public area and see how many alligators you can find today!
Thirteen US Presidents, including Harrison, McKinley, Wilson, Coolidge, Taft, both Roosevelts (Theodore and Franklin Delano), Truman and Reagan, both Bushes (George H. W. and George W.), Clinton and Obama have been guests at The Jefferson Hotel.
Legend says that Bill "Bojangles" Robinson was discovered by his life-long agent while dancing across the dining room at The Jefferson Hotel.
Frank Sinatra once entertained guests in Lemaire at The Jefferson Hotel with an impromptu performance after enjoying his dinner.
Artifacts from over a century of the hotel’s history are housed in a museum at the bottom of The Grand Staircase, including a photo of Elvis at the hotel's old lunch counter.
The priceless statue of Thomas Jefferson that stands watch over the Palm Court lobby has only left his post on one occasion. In the 1902 hotel fire, he was rescued from the building only to have his head bumped on the cobblestones. He took a brief vacation to Edward Valentine’s art studio where his head was reattached.
The Grand Staircase at The Jefferson Hotel has long been rumored to be the staircase featured in the iconic film, Gone with the Wind.
The Jefferson Hotel is often cited as one of the finest examples of Beaux Arts architecture still in existence today.
Patrick Ehemann - Executive Banquet Chef
Patrick Ehemann's influences are truly global. Born in Spain to a German/Irish father and a Mexican mother, his military family moved back to the USA where he absorbed the cuisine of Oklahoma, California, Florida, Texas and Virginia.
These experiences are reflected in his cuisine, which focuses on using the freshest local ingredients. Ehemann’s previous experience at the some of the nation’s top restaurants have helped create many memorable events at The Jefferson, as well as the hotel’s famous Sunday Brunch.
“If I had to describe my food, I would say that it is New Southern Cuisine with a French technique,” says Ehemann. “However, the menu is so vast that we have the ability to garnish it with many other global influences.”
Ehemann’s family loved to eat and cook, and while at The University of Texas, he decided that he wanted to learn to cook professionally. He began dishwashing at the best restaurant he could find, Zoot Restaurant in Austin, and by the time he graduated he was the sous chef.
And thus began a career that has taken in some of the nation’s finest kitchens, under the guidance of the some of the nation’s finest chefs.
His voyage includes:
- Biga on the Banks in San Antonio
- A return to Zoot in Austin as Executive Chef; as part of this tenure, he spent a summer in New York observing and cooking in restaurants like Park Avenue Café (under David Burke), Tribeca Bar and Grill (under Don Pintabona) and Patria (under Doug Rodriguez)
- Lo Spiedo di Noble in Greensboro, North Carolina
- AQUA in San Francisco
- Gary Danko in San Francisco, which Zagat rates second only to The French Laundry
- Barr Mansion in Austin
Ehemann’s desire to move to a smaller city, where he could raise his family and still be in a vibrant culinary scene, landed him in Richmond in 2003. He began working as a sous chef in Lemaire, The Jefferson’s signature restaurant, but within a year was promoted to Executive Banquet Chef.