|The KCCC wine team (left to right): Dan Elsworth (Bartender); Andrew Kneessy (Executive Chef); Mark Bado (General Manager); Becky Livers (Food & Beverage Manager); Josh Augustin (Bartender); Mark Augustin (Dining Room Manager); Josh Munich (Sous Chef); and Leslie Miller (Assistant Dining Room Manager).|
All club managers know that training and teamwork are keys to successful operations. But in addition to good teamwork between departments and general training within each department, the real payoffs can come from drilling down to establish, and formalize, regular training and educational efforts for very specific aspects of an operation.
A good example is how the Kansas City (Mo.) Country Club has created a “wine team” and regimented its training for this increasingly critical area. Coordinated by General Manager Mark Bado and Executive Chef Andrew Kneessy, the team includes members of the food and beverage and culinary staffs at all levels, to cover both front and back of the house issues.
“The wine team was formed to make certain our membership is well-informed and knowledgeable when they choose their wines,” says Becky Livers, the club’s Food & Beverage Director. “Its objective is to broaden the staff’s knowledge of wine and wine service, to enhance the member’s dining experience.”
THE GOAL:Drill down to establish, and formalize, regular training and educational efforts for very specific aspects of an operation.THE PLAN: The Kansas City Country Club created a “wine team” with both F&B and culinary staff members and regimented its training to cover both front- and back-of-the-house issues related to this increasingly critical areas.
THE PAYOFF: Improved across-the-board knowledge has led to increased sales and attendance at wine dinners and a more appreciative membership. There have also been benefits in cross-training and “life skill” development
Chef Kneessy now leads weekly meetings for the team, with a range of focused topics designed to avoid overloading team members with too much general information and instead ensure better retention through concentrated instruction. One week, for example, a Master Sommelier was brought in to speak to the group specifically about Reislings and Garnaches.
Members of the wine team included bartenders, sous chefs, and dining room managers who are then encouraged to share what they’ve learned with peer associates.
Specific benefits of the wine team approach, the club reports, include increased wine sales, an improved wine list, increased attendance at wine dinners, a more “wine-educated” and appreciative membership, an increased number of front-of-the-house employees who are comfortable recommending and selling wine, and the opportunity to build new life skills for participating staff members.
“Pairing food and wine is all about recognizing defining features in both food and wine and bringing them together in a complimentary way,” says Livers. “This idea has not only helped the staff learn more about the wine, but also allowed them to pass their newfound knowledge to the membership. The staff has enjoyed [the opportunity to gain] additional knowledge, and the membership enjoys the added professionalism that comes through the selections they suggest. Overall, it raises the level of service in the dining room, and enhances the members’ dining experience.”