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Dinner theatre set to open at Comfort Inn

SOUTH POINT - Fred Hornbuckle had the desire, saw a need and the rest just fell into place.

The restaurant owner is opening Mahogany's Fine Dining and Dinner Theatre in the Comfort Inn and Suites in South Point.

"The timing was right," Hornbuckle said.

Hornbuckle runs a sports grill in Huntington, W.Va., but said he wanted to get into fine dining. He said he saw a niche in the area but few restaurants with that style. A friend told him about the empty restaurant space in the Comfort Inn and Suites in South Point.

With the idea already in his head, Hornbuckle said the timing was just perfect.

Hornbuckle said there was also a need for a fine dining restaurant to compete with the steak houses and keep people here for dinner.

"We noticed the clientele in Huntington come from southern Ohio and eastern Kentucky," Hornbuckle said. "We'd be more than happy to lead them in this direction."

Entertainment with dinner is not a new concept, however it is one not heavily utilized in the area outside of sports.

Hornbuckle said there is not a great deal of theater offered in the area. He said there are some theater companies but nothing year-round.

"I felt there was a need for it, too," he said.

From a desire to do fine dining and a need for theater bloomed the idea for Mahogany's Fine Dinning and Dinner Theatre.

"The idea just sort of clicked," Hornbuckle said. "We decided to give it a go."

The restaurant is more than a business venture. Hornbuckle said, being from Huntington, it is a way for him to give back to the community culturally and economically.

"Something like that is definitely good for the community," said Viviane Khounlavong, director of the Lawrence County Convention and Visitors Bureau. "It brings in so much art and culture into the area."

Hornbuckle said he will try to bring in outside groups.

"There's a huge economic impact by bringing tour groups in," he said.

He estimates $2.4 million dollars will be brought into the area during the 2006 season locally and by appealing to out-of-towners.

"We want to try to get people from the outside because it is a bigger economic impact," Hornbuckle said.

He is on his way having already booked 40 tickets from a group in Columbus for the first night.

Hornbuckle does not seem worried about opening a new restaurant and said he expects sold out shows all three nights.

"I think it will be a phenomenal success," Hornbuckle said. "We've already had inquiries and sold tickets. We expect a real grand opening."

The first show is "Closer than Ever," a four person musical performed by The Renaissance Players.

The show runs June 17 to 19. Dinner begins at 8 p.m. and the show at 9 p.m.Ticket are $30 for individuals and $55 for couples. Tickets include dinner and the show.

Hornbuckle said the first weekend will provide a buffet-style dinner with three meats and various sides, but by the next show the kitchen will be fully operational.

Reservations are recommended but not required.

"I would encourage people interested to come and reserve tickets now because they will sell out quick," Hornbuckle said.

The restaurant itself will not open until July 1. Hours will be 4 to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday with the lounge open until 11 p.m. There are separate dining rooms on show nights for people only interested in dinner.