Clubs can accommodate bustling dining areas with carefully planned and deliberately designed kitchen space.
Maintaining a fresh design is an essential ingredient in club and resort kitchens. As properties expand both the restaurant and catered-event sides of their business, kitchen facilities must keep pace with the increased workflow. Updating these epicenters of food preparation is not only vital to the staff’s productivity, it ensures that top chefs will have the means to generate dishes that can cement their clubs’ reputations for premier dining.
At Brentwood Country Club in Los Angeles, old infrastructure, outdated equipment and a poor layout recently prompted a full-scale kitchen update. Fueled by the membership’s desire to update the club’s entire food-and-beverage program, a plan was put into place and the project was completed in May 2015.
|SUMMING IT UP
• Creating distinct spaces for a la carte and catered meals improves kitchen workflow and efficiency.
• When mapping out kitchen equipment necessities, factor in “wish list” components to create a comprehensive design plan.
• Repurposing underutilized space in or adjacent to the kitchen can provide extra storagecapabilities.
Working within a generously sized footprint—5,200 sq. ft.—helped to expedite the renovation process. “We reorganized the entire space to maximize the efficiency of a la carte and banquet service,” says Executive Chef Brett Swartzman. “The foot traffic between the front-of-house and back-of-house was greatly improved.”
To make the best use of the space, the kitchen was completely gutted and necessary equipment installations were mapped out. “It’s always been a dream of mine to have a wood-burning pizza oven, so that was a top priority,” says Swartzman.
New ovens and multiple ranges have been added to the new layout, and the main hot line features a double-well pasta cooker, French flat top, burner space, stand-up high-speed broiler and two salamanders. The garde manger boasts its own separate line, with sizable refrigeration for multiple toppings and sides. The pastry department, stocked with two convection ovens, a batch freezer, a full-size oven and Carrara marble worktop, rounds out the remainder of the kitchen space.
Because the equipment manufacturer’s plant is in Los Angeles, Swartzman was able to witness the components being built firsthand. “It was a unique and special experience to be able to design every square inch of the kitchen with the architects,” he says. “Every detail was able to be discussed.”
Another major advantage of the new kitchen is the addition of HVAC—something the old space lacked entirely. Old flooring was also replaced, after having suffered massive water damage over the years.
“The kitchen is directly above the men’s locker room, so it was a priority to get a new quarry-tile, waterproof floor installed,” notes Swartzman.
With this fully functioning kitchen up and running for the last two years, Brentwood CC has since been able to streamline its service and a smaller satellite kitchen has been phased out of operation. “We created more server work space and ‘smart’ stations for mise en place, so we are able to service the membership more efficiently,” notes Swartzman.
Best of all and certainly not coincidentally, Brentwood’s food-and-beverage sales have increased by 20-25% since the kitchen space was renovated, Swartzman reports.
Let’s Do Lunch (and More)
For an increasingly busy food operation, Glen Ridge (N.J.) Country Club needed a kitchen that could keep up with incoming orders. This past February, the club unveiled a new a la carte kitchen, as part of a $13 million, property-wide renovation, that put an end to a logistical challenge that had been plaguing its food-and-beverage team for quite some time.
Born out of necessity, the club’s kitchen was needed to provide better service in “1894,” Glen Ridge’s brand-new, 210-seat restaurant.
“The previous lower-level kitchen was only capable of lunch service, due to the small size and inadequate equipment,” explains General Manager Harris Coble.
In addition, the kitchen on the clubhouse’s main floor was doing double-duty by servicing the lower-level restaurant for all other meals. But through the reconfiguration, the previous lunch kitchen was converted into a dish station, and a new 4,200-sq. ft. a la carte kitchen was built adjacent to it.
The completely overhauled space warranted all-new kitchen equipment that would be better designed for production efficiency. Glen Ridge’s kitchen arsenal now includes a 42 x 42 woodstone pizza oven, a custom fire-and-ice suite of 18 14-inch burners and two freezer drawers, and a custom-built center island. Other valuable new pieces include a pasta cooker that can accommodate eight orders simultaneously, two 18-inch burners, two grills, a 24-inch high-mass oven (with a four-inch steel plate to retain heat), two double fryers, a 48-inch upright broiler, and a 48-inch convection oven.
To further improve the new kitchen’s efficiency, a walk-in cooler and prep station were added to what Coble refers to as “otherwise wasted space.” Flooring is now a non-slip, seamless poured epoxy, and all electric, drainage and plumbing systems are custom-built. Ventilation is supplied by ductless air-conditioning units installed at each end of the kitchen.
Thanks to its newly repurposed kitchen, Glen Ridge can now seamlessly manage all aspects of its dining business—and volume for the club’s foodservice operation has grown 71% in the past two years.
“[The kitchen] allows us to produce a la carte restaurant service, as well as banquet and event service, independent of each other and without any interruption or interference,” Coble notes.
Separate But Equal
Heritage Shores, in Bridgeville, Del., was another club grappling with the need to distinguish banquet-event food prep from its a la carte service. The club’s original kitchen had been single-handedly producing a la carte dining and banquet meals while also preparing food for Sugar Beet Market, Heritage Shores’ distinctive new grab-and-go-style facility (“Feel the Beet,” C&RB, July 2017).
“The major decision-maker for us was to separate the banquet prep and execution areas, so the previous kitchen space could be dedicated for a la carte dining,” explains General Manager Robert Anen, CCM. With food-and-beverage revenues increasing across the board, having well-defined spaces for food prep, plating and support became essential.
This past May, Heritage Shores opened its new banquet kitchen area, to nearly double the size of its culinary space while allowing the original kitchen to concentrate on a la carte dining.
A 700-sq. ft. area that was formerly used for storage and as a performance stage for member events has now been repurposed to manage food prep for catered events and the Sugar Beet Market. Thanks to the extra room, the culinary team has tables set up specifically for food prep and plating. “Our first priority was space,” notes Anen of this dedicated area of the kitchen.
New equipment was also put in place to execute banquet affairs and support the Sugar Beet Market, including double-battery fryers, a tilt skillet, a range and oven, a combi oven, and a cook-and-hold oven. Pull-down heating lamps were added for plating meals, while roll-in refrigeration has proved useful for banquets. All-new HVAC and ventilation systems, plumbing, electric and flooring, along with floor drains and ceilings, complete the behind-the-scenes kitchen infrastructure.
Because storage is such an essential component of a busy kitchen, a new walk-in refrigerator helps keep product on hand for the Sugar Beet Market, which is located in a new stand-alone facility a few hundred yards from Heritage Shores’ clubhouse. “We also created beverage storage and dry-goods storage spaces within the renovated areas, which help with security and accountability of product,” adds Anen.
Thanks to the centrally located kitchen facilities, Heritage Shores has seen improved service and flow in its dining practices, especially during busy nights when both events and a la carte meals are in full swing. Involving staff in the entire process has helped to ensure such a successful outcome, Anen says.
“It was important to work with the service staff and culinary staff, keeping them involved in the planning process, to make sure that the flow and service areas were taken into consideration,” he says.
Serving From Many Spaces
A multi-kitchen operation can pose the need for an especially massive overhaul, as well as individualized design approaches. For Myers Park Country Club in Charlotte, N.C., each of the club’s six kitchens had its own requirements. To help make sense of which equipment would make the most sense in their respective locations, Executive Chef Jason Hall worked directly with a kitchen equipment manufacturer that is headquartered in Charlotte.
“We spent a lot of time looking at the inefficiencies, space-saving opportunities, utility-saving opportunities and ways to reduce stress on my staff,” Hall explains. Those efforts have resulted in six built-from-scratch kitchens, each exclusively designed to serve a unique purpose.
On the club’s lower level, a casual, high-volume kitchen serves seven areas, including two dining rooms, a lounge, veranda, men’s lounge and pool bar. While Hall says it is the “busiest a la carte outlet at the club,” the kitchen originally comprised a modest 900 sq. ft. “Ticket times were long, there was not much cooking or holding space, and it had grown beyond its abilities to be successful,” Hall says.
Now, having tripled the original footprint, Hall labels this kitchen as the one that has changed the most. A to-go window in the kitchen opens to a kiosk where members can pick up their orders. With this new routing procedure, managers no longer need to take orders and physically ring them in.
In Myers Park’s 475-sq. ft. banquet kitchen, additional refrigeration in both the cooking suite and a walk-in meet current and future kitchen needs. Newly installed combis have doubled the kitchen’s previous cooking capacity, while a full-size, roll-through blast chiller reduces time and labor costs. A new kettle and pressure-braising pan allow the kitchen to handle stock production for the entire club.
The 200-sq. ft. formal kitchen was redesigned with what Hall describes as a “more European feel.” An L-shaped design affords more surface area for plating on the pass, while a half-stack oven holds all hot items on the pass, instead of using a heat lamp.
Prior to the renovation, the garde manger, where all deli meats, preserves and terrines are prepared, was a high-traffic area that has since been redesigned with store-front glass windows. The 275-sq. ft., temperature-controlled room now has its own working walk-in, complete with a sink and work tables.
The 400-sq. ft. pastry kitchen, which handles all desserts for Myers Park, now has a larger, marble community work table in the center of the room. A deck oven has been replaced with a combi and double-stack combi, moving the kitchen from a six-sheet tray cooking capacity to 25 at one time.
Finally, the new 325-sq. ft. tavern kitchen serves Myers Park’s late-night venue, the men’s lounge. “It’s our answer to keeping members here at the club, versus visiting the local sports bar,” explains Hall. This space has enabled the club to expand its menu, which now includes smoothies, pizza by the slice, fries and paninis, and to offer a grab-and-go area.