On-the-go food and drink service at Interlachen CC has been enhanced by the versatility, and sustainability, of a new labeling and packaging system.
The trends toward more casual dining and family-oriented food-and-beverage service in club settings have combined to put a greater emphasis on providing “grab-and-go” fare not only from golf-course turn shacks and snack carts, but also satellite outlets at pool and tennis facilities. The movement has also extended to the clubhouse, through takeout menus and self-serve stations set up around members’ regular gathering spots.
But because of its reliance on more disposable packaging and serveware, this trend can also be at odds with another major emphasis now being seen throughout club operations that is usually led by the F&B department: promoting environmental responsibility by reducing waste and lowering the property’s carbon footprint wherever possible.
The need to balance these objectives was why Gil Junge, Executive Chef of Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minn., was interested in checking out the exhibit of Planglow USA while attending Club & Resort Business’ 2014 Chef to Chef Conference in San Antonio last March. Junge had taken his position at Interlachen in 2013 after previously being part of the culinary operation at the University of Minnesota, where he directed foodservice programs for multiple outlets that relied heavily on portable packaging, while also helping to lead participation in University-wide sustainability initiatives. Planning to have Interlachen take more steps in both directions, Junge wanted to find a packaging partner to help him simultaneously advance towards both goals.
While at the Conference, Junge looked over Planglow’s display of eco-friendly food boxes, bags, cups, trays and other packaging and containers designed for the to-go market. He also reviewed the supplier’s capabilities for providing on-demand label printing through two programs, LabelLogic and NutriLogic, to help produce branded labeling that could also include barcodes and nutritional or allergen information if desired.
After returning from the Conference, Junge worked with Planglow to help upgrade the packaging used for Interlachen’s grab-and-go foodservice—and as the 2014 season unfolded, the club’s members began to become familiar with, and accepting of, a wider variety of packaged offerings provided for handy consumption not only on the golf course, but throughout the property.
“At the University, I directed a commissary operation that produced 2,300 [stock-keeping units] per night for the retail outlets that students use, so I had a lot of ideas for how to broaden the product line offered at the club,” Junge says. “Where before it was just limited here to things like hard-boiled eggs or sandwiches, and the packaging was pretty mediocre, we wanted to expand to also include fresh bakery items, salads, fruit cups and other snacks, and to do so with professional-looking containers that also sent a clear message about how we were promoting sustainability.”
Almost immediately after those products were introduced in distinctive packaging that included clear “100% biodegradable” markings and were adorned with labeling featuring an appealing circle of words (“Eat/Zest/Fresh/Juicy/Flavor”), Interlachen members took to the new line of signature sandwiches and other healthier items. “Sales picked up on the golf course, and that soon spread to the pool and other areas,” Junge says. “As the weather got colder, it still worked [to offer the grab-and-go products] in places like warming huts, and even inside the clubhouse.”
Compared to previous packaging he has used, Junge gives Planglow’s labeling system high marks for making it easy to customize information. The packaging also provides especially good shelf life, he adds, to help avoid a drying-out problem he’s encountered with other containers in the past.
Most importantly, Planglow products are helping Junge, who is using more local products and expanding farm-to-table presentations, keep the grab-and-go side of Interlachen’s F&B operation in proper alignment with his drive to enhance the club’s culinary profile while promoting sustainability.
“Members appreciate how we are carrying out sustainability in everything we do,” he says. “And to-go packaging is actually where they’re more likely to see when we are—or are not—being true to what we say. So we certainly don’t want to be giving them styrofoam, and we do want them to know that everything is biodegradable.”