Club + Resort Business’ Second Annual Awards recognize Arrowhead Country Club in Rapid City, S.D. for transforming its culinary approach, which has increased dining revenue by more than 30% while bringing new innovative events to its members; and Moss Creek Golf Club in Hilton Head Island, S.C. for introducing meal kits, a “Home Cooking with Lenny” video series, and a “Sunday Sauce Menu.”
The December 2020 issue of Club + Resort Business features the 2020 Innovation Awards, recognizing club and resort properties that have conceived and implemented concepts that have paid real dividends in the form of enduring member and guest satisfaction and loyalty.
These properties were recognized for innovative achievement in the Food + Beverage category:
In the summer of 2020, Eric Sharpe became the new Chief Operating Officer/General Manager of Arrowhead Country Club in Rapid City, S.D. A Culinary Institute of America graduate, Sharpe’s professional resume included a sales position with a wine and spirits distributor, being a founding partner of a seafood company, and management roles with an international bicycle company and a hotel/casino operation, in addition to corporate positions as an executive and private chef.
Coming to Arrowhead represented Sharpe’s introduction to the private-club industry, but there was a clear purpose behind why he had been put at the management helm. “I was hired to begin building a new team to lead Arrowhead into the future,” he says. “Our club was established in 1954 and has a long track record of great dining, but in the past few years that had faltered to [primarily] opening boxes from large national companies.
“Our vision for the club was to engage families in the area and new members with a fresh approach to club dining,” Sharpe adds. “In the past, ‘local’ in South Dakota dining was not really utilized with the exception of a few fine-dining restaurants. We wanted to engage our local farmers and ranchers, and showcase to our membership what we have right in our own back yard.
“This needed to be done by rebuilding the team from the ground up,” Sharpe says. “We found several new team members both locally and out of state who had the same drive and desire for locally sourced fine dining.”
Even amid the pandemic and the shift it necessitated to curbside dining and other approaches, Arrowhead CC’s kitchen team, led by Chef JJ Lee, has already transformed the club’s culinary approach to where over a dozen local producers and sustainable fisheries are now utilized, “including, but not limited to, buffalo, produce and wild foragers in South Dakota and Montana,” Sharpe reports.
“To create the whole picture,” he adds, “we also brought on a baker from the Carolinas and a new Food and Beverage director who share in our passion.”
Arrowhead’s menus now feature dishes such as “Wild Idea Buffalo and Heirloom Tortilla Tacos,” “South Dakota Pork Riblets with House-Fermented Kim Chi Rice,” “Muddy River Farms Heirloom Tomato and Prosciutto,” and “Dakota Plains Chicken,” and ingredients such as locally harvested lobster mushrooms and housemade kimchi fried rice and breads.
“This is an ongoing process, with menus changing monthly and a new on-property garden in the works for 2021,” Sharpe says. “Although 2020 certainly has had its challenges, we have increased our dining revenue at the club by over 30% while bringing new innovative events (with restrictions) and a fresh face to what was thought of as typical club dining.”
As at many clubs, the culinary and food-and-beverage teams at Moss Creek Golf Club in Hilton Head Island, S.C. quickly hurdled the dining restrictions imposed by the pandemic by responding with innovative and enticing to-go menus and other marketplace services.
In addition, Moss Creek’s Executive Chef, Lenny Giarratano, developed a special following for his meal kits, a “Home Cooking with Lenny” video series, and especially his “Sunday Sauce Menu,” for those who still wanted to maintain their end-of-the-weekend, at-home family pasta meal tradition, but didn’t mind getting some help with the bulk ingredient requirements.
Giarratano offered housemade alfredo, marinara and tomato sauce with meatballs by the pint and quart, along with extras such as garlic bread, or even a pound of whatever type of pasta might be needed, too.