Chevy Chase Club’s Winter Center has become the property’s primary casual-dining venue and benefitted from an expansion that included a larger kitchen.
The Winter Center at Chevy Chase (Md.) Club (CCC) draws its name from how the facility supports the club’s full slate of cold-weather activities, including ice skating and hockey. But the Winter Center is actually open 365 days a year, serving breakfast from 7 – 11 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., and dinner from 5 – 9:30 p.m. It has become the property’s primary casual-dining venue, and also services in-room dining for the Bradley House, which provides CCC’s on-campus overnight accommodations.
THE GOAL: Redesign the Winter Center kitchen at Chevy Chase Club, so it could better support an expanded menu, while improving quality, presentation and efficiency.
With volume that has continued to increase in step with the growth and expansion of the club, it became clear that the Winter Center needed a kitchen to allow for a larger menu that could be prepared with increased efficiency. But the only way to do that was to launch an extensive expansion of the entire facility.
“Before the renovation, we had one small hot line and expo window, and one cold line,” says Executive Chef Scott Craig, who came to the club in late 2014 after serving as Executive Chef of Myers Park Country Club in Charlotte, N.C. “We had one walk-in refrigerator, one freezer and one dry-storage room.”
Because of its smallness, the space was inefficient, too. “The kitchen was designed for much less volume, which consistently caused higher-than-desired ticket times,” says Craig.
The restrictions also caused members to order less, in hopes of getting in and out more quickly. To reduce the volume of tickets coming into the kitchen, but to still service members looking for a casual dining option, themed buffets and raw bars were the norm.
So for Craig, one of the first orders of business after arriving at CCC was immersing himself in a project that would focus on “creating a [Winter Center] kitchen space that would allow us to expand the menu, improve the quality of the product and presentation, and, most importantly, produce meals more efficiently.”
The renovation was broken into two phases. The first focused on the main dining spaces, both upstairs and downstairs. The kitchen, main bar and skate areas were also part of phase one. The second phase then focused on the facility’s Rumpus Room, bowling alleys and main entrance.
While the Winter Center was closed for the renovation, the staff was trained for service upgrades and new standards, through extensive classwork that sought to prepare everyone to exceed expectations when the facility reopened.
“From the culinary side, months were spent testing and developing recipes for the reopening,” Craig says. “We also trained extensively on culinary fundamentals, sanitation practices and etiquette.”
In November 2014, CCC unveiled the first phase of the renovation, complete with a kitchen that was nearly double in size. (The second phase was completed in April 2015.)
“Our kitchen went from 2,020 sq. ft. to 4,117 sq. ft.,” says Craig. “We now have one hot line, one pizza and kid’s hot line, one pantry line, including dessert, and two expo windows. Storage and refrigeration units have doubled for each. We currently have two dry storage rooms, three walk-in refrigerators and one freezer. The kitchen now also includes a chef’s office and several prep areas.”
The expanded Winter Center menu (which can be viewed with the online version of this article, at clubandresortbusiness.com) still reflects a casual environment, but one where delivering top-quality product is now done consistently and quickly.
“Because of the updated menus, kitchen efficiency, and new ambiances, members are now choosing to order more than one course when they dine with us,” Craig reports. Appetizer and dessert sales have also grown significantly since the reopening, he says.
“We have experienced a tremendous amount of membership satisfaction with the results of the renovation and new menu,” he adds. “Members enjoy the dining space and variety. Ticket times are lower than before, and a greater emphasis is being placed on preparing exceptional cuisine.”
Serving up contemporary American fare, the menu is seasonal and changes quarterly. Ingredients are locally sourced, and product is made from scratch, notes Craig.
“We are especially proud of the new pizza program,” he says. “We are producing 16-inch and 8-inch pizzas for the membership, using a crust that is made from scratch daily, and cooked in a 500-degree, two-deck pizza oven. It’s been wildly successful.”
They’ve Got It CoveredProviding plenty of proper shade is critical to maximizing member and guest satisfaction at pool facilities. But maintaining, setting up and storing a full complement of awnings and umbrellas can become an expensive and cumbersome proposition, season after season.
With four popular pool areas on its campus, management of The Kansas City Country Club (Mission Hills, Kan.) decided that the solution to how it could cost-effectively provide shade for a large percentage of its total pool-deck square footage would be to install larger permanent umbrellas that not only offer a much sturdier option in high winds, but can also shade an area almost six times the size of traditional cloth umbrellas.
The permanent umbrellas “have been a huge hit with members because they are able to provide ample space for several families without needing to pull tables and umbrellas together,” the club’s staff reports. “The staff loves them because they are not constantly having to put them up. Maintenance is also a breeze because they can be covered and left up outside year-round.
“While we will continue to offer shade via cloth umbrellas around smaller portions of our pool deck and at various dining tables, the permanent umbrellas are a perfect solution for our larger, high-volume areas,” the club’s staff says.