New Jersey-based Morningstar Golf & Hospitality LLC will take over food-and-beverage operations at the township-owned property. Township Manager Jeff Bartlett said Morningstar will hire all employees and purchase all food and beverages and bill it back to the township. The club’s restaurant has been closed since December 2017, when the township evicted JMH Inc. over a liquor license dispute.
Exeter Township, Pa., which owns the Reading (Pa.) Country Club, has approved a deal with New Jersey-based Morningstar Golf & Hospitality LLC to take over food-and-beverage operations, the Reading Eagle reported. It’s a five-year deal in which the township would pay the company $5,000 per month with incentives for exceeding performance goals, Township Manager Jeff Bartlett said.
The club’s restaurant has been closed since December 2017, when the township evicted JMH Inc., the company that ran the former ViVa restaurant in Wyomissing, over a liquor license dispute, the Eagle reported.
C+RB reported on the eviction at the time. In February 2020, C+RB also reported that Exeter Township voted unanimously to keep the property as green space and move forward with RFPs for efficiently leasing or managing its operation.
The township acquired the country club property in 2006 for about $12 million, the Eagle reported. That acquisition was by eminent domain, a move to thwart plans for a 550-townhouse development on the site.
Morningstar operates private clubs and golf courses in 25 states, the United Kingdom and Japan, the Eagle reported. Its golf clubs have hosted tournaments for all the major professional golf tours. Regionally, Morningstar runs golf clubs in Bensalem, Bucks County; Cape May Court House, N.J. and Somers Point, N.J.
“They’ve been doing this quite a few years,” Bartlett said. “In some cases, they do all the operations, in others they just run the golf course, and in others it’s just food and beverages. It depends on the entity.”
Bartlett said Morningstar will hire all employees and purchase all food and beverages and bill it back to the township, the Eagle reported. All revenue will be submitted to the township.
Exeter had been courting companies to run the operation, Bartlett told the Eagle, but not many were interested. Some wanted to also run the now-public golf operation, which the township didn’t want to give up, while others were hesitant because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ve had golf in-house for several years, and it is doing well right now,” Bartlett told the Eagle. In its latest report on golf operations, the township said it had a year-to-date surplus of $164,135 on year-to-date revenues that had reached 100.99% of budget, while expenses were at 78.56% of budget. The average revenue per round in September 2021 was $33.48.
In the three years the restaurant has been closed, golf outings used outside caterers, the Eagle reported. That will eventually come back in-house.
“We lost all that revenue,” Bartlett said.
Plans are to go back to hosting banquets in early 2022, along with weddings at a later date, the Eagle reported. The township still has the liquor license.