Just because they’re not eating in the dining room doesn’t mean that members and guests expect less than outstanding food. For takeout and grab-and-go fare, club and resort chefs’ satellite menus are displaying creativity and attention to delicious details.
On the snowy slopes of Killington (Vt.) Resort., skiers can warm up with the spicy flavors of Jamaica at the Jerk Shack, a satellite foodservice operation that just opened last Christmas. With space to seat only about 25 guests, the bulk of the Jerk Shack’s sales come from takeout orders for house specialty items that range from marinated and grilled bone-in jerk chicken leg and thighs, to jerk wings with hot peppers and orange chipotle mayo dip, to garlic marinated shrimp kebab with jerk sauce, pineapple and peppers. Even the grilled cheese sandwich gets the jerk spice treatment.
|SUMMING IT UP
• Keep cooking at satellite locations simple, to expedite takeout service.
• Offer made-to-order options along with ready-made grab-and-go items.
• Salads are popular year-round as to-go choices.
• Carside delivery is a popular perk that can add special appeal to takeout orders.
Eric Rusch, Killington Resort’s Executive Chef and manager of the property’s Peak Lodge mountaintop restaurant, says guests can also choose to have jerk pork, chicken or brisket piled on choices that include a challah roll, garlic wrap, mesclun greens, the rice of the day (for example, coconut, curry, pumpkin or black bean) or seasoned fries.
The bulk of the prep work for the Jerk Shack’s menu items is done in the kitchen at Peak Lodge, Rusch notes. Cooking is done to order in the satellite’s small kitchen, which is equipped with a freezer, flattop and deep fryer, as well as cold and hot wells out front, from which guests can choose their ingredients. A newly purchased walk-in cooler is too large to fit into the kitchen, but will be located adjacent to the Jerk Shack.
“We did double the business we expected to do when we opened the Jerk Shack,” Rusch reports.
Elsewhere on the mountain, a trail-side ski-in/ski-out food venue, Vista Deck, specializes in an item that Rusch has dubbed the “Gourmet Verrito” (for Vermont + burrito). The Vermont part comes from how the items feature local cheeses and other ingredients.
To make the Verritos, flour tortillas are filled with either coffee-braised pulled beef brisket with Vermont cheddar sauce, or citrus-braised pork with Vermont Gouda and Cajun gourmaise. Both choices are served with seasoned rice and black-bean corn salsa.
The Verritos are made fresh each day at Peak Lodge and packaged for grab-and-go, and Rusch then personally skis them down to the Vista Deck. The location also features gourmet hot dogs, including cooked-on-the-spot Cajun dogs crowned with Cajun gourmaise, franks with mustard pickle relish, and smokey dogs with house-smoked ketchup.
A snowy mountain is no place for an ordinary food truck, so at Killington, a Sno-Cat sled pulls a small satellite food outlet called The Dog Sled to remote locations, so hungry skiers can be fed with the Verritos and gourmet dogs if they can’t wait to get to the Vista Deck or Peak Lodge.
Located on the Appalachian Trail, Killington also gets a good amount of hikers year-round. For them, the Peak Lodge offers about eight different grab-and-go sandwiches in the winter, and five in the summer. The hikers can also get made-to-order sandwiches from the deli or the grill.
All told, Killington brought in $2 million last year from its mountain-trail food operations, according to Rusch—and of that, about $250,000 was from takeout orders.
A Kitchen for All Purposes
At the Blackthorn Club in Jonesborough, Tenn., Executive Chef James Allen and his staff of eight prepare food for the club’s three dining rooms, two event spaces, pool and the golf course beverage-and-snack cart, all in one small kitchen.
Making Members Merry
The holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a huge time for take-home service at the Blackthorn Club in Jonesborough, Tenn. During last year’s “Turkey Takeaway,” Executive Chef James Allen prepared 45 birds with all the trimmings for members’ at-home holiday dinners.
Allen brines the turkeys to keep them moist when they are reheated. Seven years ago, he also started offering beef tenderloin dinners. Last year, he sold between 15 and 18 tenderloins.
For Christmas, Allen offers a “Holiday Haul Away” pick-up program for brown-sugar and black-pepper smoked hams.
“I came up with the idea of ‘Holiday Haul Away’ with only a week or two to advertise, but we still received enough orders to generate $3,000 worth of revenue that closed out an already busy month,” Allen says.
Although Blackthorn is not open on Thanksgiving, Allen allows members to pick up their meals between 10 and 12 p.m. Because the club is closed on Christmas Day, members can come for their food on December 23 and 24.
In Executive Chef Chad Myers’ kitchen at Dubuque (Iowa) Golf & Country Club, at least 50 turkey dinners were cooked and packaged for home serving last Thanksgiving. The food can be picked up the day before the holiday for take-and-bake at home, or picked up on Thanksgiving Day as ready-to-serve meals.
“Everyone is cross-trained and has hands in [all parts of the operation],” Allen says. “Even the operation of the beverage cart is rotated through the servers.”
From Wednesday through Saturday, Blackthorn members can order anything they like to take home from the fine dining a la carte menu. Some members are regular takeout customers, Allen reports, placing to-go orders every single week.
“They know they can get a nice dinner when they get home late, and we offer a lot of foods kids like, such as chicken tenders, grilled cheese, mini-pizzas and pasta for busy moms who want to feed their families,” he notes. “We can also shrink down any regular entrée to a kid-sized portion.”
In addition to eight-ounce fillets and other upscale food, Blackthorn members also like to pick up takeout orders for more casual fare that is made available all day Tuesday through Sunday, such as burgers or the house-smoked turkey sandwich.
Thursday and Saturday are pizza pick-up nights at Blackthorn. Everything from the dough to the sauce is handmade at the club and three different 16-inch varieties are offered, including a seasonal selection that the kitchen staff creates.
“Some especially successful seasonal pizzas have been buffalo chicken with blue cheese and loaded hamburger,” Allen says. “Members love the seasonal variety, and nine out of 10 will try it.”
Salads are also popular selections year-round, he notes. The number-one seller at Blackthorn is an Asian salmon salad comprised of a glazed fillet on chopped romaine with Mandarin oranges, carrots and cucumbers. Another favorite is a fried local black pepper on spring mix and other veggies, with citrus thyme vinaigrette. Strawberry spinach salad does very well in the summer, Allen reports, and in fall and winter, it is replaced with a spinach salad with warm bacon dressing.
For golf-course service, Blackthorn has just upgraded to a new upscale beverage cart that Allen now stocks with a wider assortment of fresh-food options, as well as snacks and candies. Among the most popular items are pimento cheese and chicken salad sandwiches, and Fritos salad in a cup.
The food is packaged in cardboard boxes with see-through windows, to make it easy for both the beverage-cart operator and member to identify each item. The packaging is also grease-resistant, to keep golfers’ hands clean. Stick-on labels call out any potential allergen ingredients and if items are gluten-free, “so members can feel secure with what they’re eating,” Allen says.
Simple and Speedy
A small downstairs grill kitchen is the source of the majority of the food eaten outside the dining room at Dubuque (Iowa) Golf & Country Club. The kitchen is equipped with a small flattop, charbroiler, refrigerator, freezer and flip-top cooler for prep.
“Because of the high volume we do at the grill, I designed the menu to be very quick and simple; ideally, it should take less than five minutes to get an item done,” says Executive Chef Chad Myers. “When the pool area is full, we can do over 50 covers in a half-hour, so speed and efficiency are key.”
Only the salads are prepared by the pantry person in the upstairs dining room kitchen, and the proteins that top them are cooked on the hot line.
Beyond the expected grab-and-go ham-and-turkey sandwiches and pizza slices at the pool snack bar, Dubuque G&CC members can select from a “South of the Border” menu that includes pork, vegetarian and shrimp tacos, and quesadillas. A chicken BLT wrap is also a brisk seller.
A good number of the mothers who bring their children to the pool prefer salads, Myers reports. A signature French chicken salad that has a loyal fan following features a chicken breast with a mayonnaise, mustard and Parmesan cheese crust that’s served on mixed greens with sliced green apples, dried cranberries and blue cheese.
The demand for take-home meals is heaviest during the first half-hour of dinner service, Myers notes, and for maximum member convenience, food orders can be delivered to their cars. “On busy nights, if we do 60 covers, at least 10 to 15 of them will be drive-up orders,” he reports.