Center Club’s thoughtful tabletop décor showcases attention to the finest detail.
By Diana Mirel, Contributing Editor
The design inspiration for the clubhouse renovation at Center Club, a ClubCorp property in Costa Mesa, Calif., was found just around the corner at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. The clubhouse décor revolves around a musical theme, which is particularly apparent in the Founders Room (the upscale dining room) and Encore Lounge (an informal bar). In the Founders Room, the aluminum dividers between the booths are custom-engraved with the notes of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, and artwork is comprised of a number of framed musical instruments on the walls.
While the overall modern, musical motif was achieved through large design elements such as dark woods and eclectic wall hangings, stylish selections are evident in the smallest details found on the tabletops. Food and Beverage Director Chris Sarten chose updated china, glass, silver and other tabletop décor to complete the look and feel of the dining venues.
“It wasn’t right to put several million dollars into a renovation, with brand new tables, chairs and a granite bar, and then roll out the same old flatware,” says Sarten. “We wanted to make people know right away that this was all new; we wanted there to be no doubt in their minds that this was cool and different.”
Since its opening in 1985, Center Club never had a true bar space. With the renovation, however, the Encore Lounge has continued to gain popularity. To further complement the dynamic, vibrant new space, Sarten decided to add some punch to food presentation—starting with the china.
To give members and guests a visual—as well as edible—treat, the bar serves its menu items on a wide range of plateware of different shapes and textures. For example, the Encore Lounge utilizes concave rectangular plates for meals; bamboo platters for charcuterie and other shared items; mini-baskets for french fries and other fried fare; and whimsical wooden pieces for tartare tastings.
In the Founders Room, the tabletops are a bit more traditional, with round, white china. “This gives it more of a formal feel,” says Sarten. “But since all of our menus are available everywhere in the club, if someone in the Founders Room orders an item from the bar menu like french fries, we put the fries in the mini-basket, just like we do in the bar.”
To further establish the more formal look in the Founders Room, the tabletops all have a vase with a fresh flower, white tablecloth, black napkins, stemmed water glasses for lunch, and stemmed water and wine glasses for dinner. Each table also has a sleek, modern stainless-steel lamp; stainless-steel salt, pepper and sugar caddies; and polished stainless-steel silverware in a matte finish.
An advanced wine cruvinet system allows the club to keep opened bottles of wine fresh for up to 30 days. Thus, the club is able to serve many high-quality wines by the glass. To serve these fine wines in style, the club utilizes Riedel glasses. “It is an added expense, but we have several glasses of wine that are $20 and up, so it is really important to have good wine glasses to serve these wines in,” says Sarten.
Costa Mesa, Calif.
December 2012 (Encore Lounge)
Architect and interior designer: Delawie,
San Diego, Calif.
Dining areas: Founders Room (formal),
Encore Lounge (informal/bar)
Banquet areas: Symphony Ballroom (can be split into three rooms); three private dining/board rooms
Meals served: Breakfast, lunch and dinner, daily
China, flatware, stemware: Wasserstrom
Wine service: Riedel
Wine cruvinet system: Wineemotion
Sarten had carte blanche (within a budget, of course) to choose the right china, flatware and stemware for the food-and-beverage operations. He brought in samples and considered the aesthetics, as well as function, in choosing each piece.
While the changes and updates to the dining venues have been well-received, Sarten would eventually like to add another visual element to the tabletops: an iPad menu system that will provide pictures and descriptions of each menu item. “People are so visual,” he says. “They often eat with their eyes first.”