THE GOAL:Make sure clubs and resorts get their fair share of the growing trend to takeout and to-go service.THE PLAN: Position F&B operations properly to capture takeout opportunities in all of its forms: standard takeout, grab-and-go, in-house entertaining, home replacement meals, and holiday meals.
THE PAYOFF: Profit margins as high as 50% but more importantly, enhanced opportunities to extend service and satisfaction to members and guests beyond the club or resort boundaries.
The Club at Longview in Charlotte, N.C., has beautiful dining rooms and an Executive Chef, Paul Verica, who loves to mingle with members and tell them about the special touches in their dishes, which often include ingredients grown right outside the club’s kitchen door in Verica’s elaborate and lovingly tended garden.
But more and more, Verica is handing out meals to members on a “to go” basis, or dropping them off at their residences. He doesn’t take it as a personal slight, however. As he told attendees of the 2009 Chef to Chef Conference in his presentation on “Takeout, The Next F&B Frontier,” Verica now recognizes takeout as an aspect of club and resort F&B operations that all properties should now embrace as not only a required additional service, but a strong opportunity for important additional revenues.
“Nearly 70% of surveyed adults who purchase meals from restaurants said that takeout, delivery or curbside service allows them to better manage their day-to-day lives,” Verica said. “Full-service restaurants are expected to rely more heavily on ‘off-premise options’ to meet Americans’ need for convenience. Clubs shouldn’t be any different.”
|“Takeout has been a great revenue stream for us, especially in the summer and around the holidays,” says Paul Verica (left), Executive Chef at The Club at Longview (above) in Charlotte, N.C. “At Thanksgivng and Christmas, we now offer a selection of fully prepared meals that members can order for their family holiday feasts. We’re now feeding over 200 people on these holiday occasions, just with to-go meals. The revenue is great, and it frees up more space in our dining room, so we can maximize the number of covers that we do for the buffet.”|
Verica now sees five segments of to-go/takeout service in club settings:
• Standard Takeout—“the gravy segment” that all club and resort properties capture in the course of a normal day. “The key here is to pay attention to the small stuff, like packaging, timeliness and order accuracy,” he said.
• Grab and Go business that can be captured on the golf course turn, at the pool, and from the beverage cart.
• In-House Entertainment, which has strong growth potential for many development clubs because “members love to entertain in their own homes.” In addition to improving member satisfaction, these takeout opportunities, which Verica stressed are “stop-and-drop, not full catering,” can also offer the opportunity to highlight a club’s capabilities to non-member guests.
• Home Replacement Meals. Longview now regularly prepares “Dream Dinners” and “Summer Supper Knock-Offs” four times a year, offering a variety of comfort foods in pre-made fresh or frozen formats for pickup. Verica has even developed a successful, signature line of salsa, sauces, jams and dressings as an offshoot of this program.
• Holiday Meals—”The most profitable segment of the to-go business,” Verica said, reporting results of an informal survey he conducted of other club chefs. “Margins average 35% to 50%, and [a good holiday takeout program] can also go a long way to relieving the usual dining-room stress.”
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