Food and Beverage – it’s not that simple

After being away for a couple of weeks, I returned to the club this weekend to find we have a new Food & Beverage Manager – and a new menu in the Members Dining Room. Like some of our Members, in addition to being a turf grass specialist, I also consider myself to be wise in the ways of food. How hard can it be to run our F&B operation? I took a look into it and it turns out, it’s pretty hard.

Our new F& B Manager Diego Carril Osorio 

Welcome to Niakwa, Diego. Read More>>

First of all there’s staffing. Diago has three key managers reporting to him: David Ladyman, who manages the Members Dining Room and club events; Katie Smith, who is our Banquets Manager; Marshall Sokoliuk, our Executive Chef. Marshall manages a Sous Chef for the MDR and a CDP Chef (Chef de Partie) for banquets. In addition to this management team there’s a staff of  40 – 50  people – including servers, cooks, dishwashers, concessions staff, and kitchen staff.

Executive Chef Marshall Sokoliuk

Financially, Food and Beverage is an important part of our Club. This year F&B will generate $1.6 million in revenue. That includes sales from the Members Dining Room and Gupta Terrace, weddings, golf tournaments, meetings, private dining, funeral services and other events. Golf tournaments and weddings can contribute as much as $25,ooo for a big wingding. During the month of June there were more than 2 events per day at the Club.

Serving the Members Dining Room is a complicated affair. Normally a restaurant has one entrance with controlled seating. Our MDR has 3 entrances, and the patio 3 more. People seat themselves, and at times they spread themselves out. For example, when I was researching this item one morning, there were three people having a late breakfast – one inside the MDR, one on the upper deck and one on the observation deck. It’s not surprising that sometimes you have to let the sever know where you are.

So – we have a bar inside, a bar outside, A banquet room, the MDR, the Hazelton Room, the Trophy Room, the Fine Dining Room, the Members Dining Room, the Upper patio, the Lower Patio and the Observation Deck. How does the kitchen service all this?

In the front of the kitchen there’s the line that serves the MDR. This station can handle six to twelve orders at a time. When golfers come off the course and foursomes order as they come in, things run smoothly. But when ten or twenty arrive unannounced things get off kilter. If you’re having an event where you expect a large group like that to be served at the same time, it’s important to let the kitchen know ahead of time. David is the guy to talk to. A private course I play in Maui requires that Members tell the kitchen in advance how many of a foursome will be staying for lunch after the game.

The MDR Line

Banquet meals are prepared on a separate banquet line. There’s also a ‘garde manger’ (for cold plates, desserts and salads), a pizza prep area, a banquet servery, MDR servery, small plate prep area, four walk in cold storage units, dry storage, beverage storage in the basement, beer coolers in the basement and general storage.

Banquet Servery

Cold Storage

Complicating matters is the fact that servers and the kitchen bend over backwards to accommodate special orders – like half my hot dog with these condiments, the other half with those – and don’t let my pickle touch my french fries. When the specials back up the line, that complicates things immensely during busy times.

What about changing the menu? That’s not that easy either. Marshall updates the menu a couple of times during the season, and there’s a lot of coordination involved. First the item has to be tested, then “menued” with new menus printed. Ingredients have to be sourced, costed, put into the ordering cycle, and used on more than one item.  Kitchen staff has to be trained on how to prepare the new item. Servers have to be brought up to speed, and the POS computer system has to be updated. Adding an item to the menu is an event.

A few years ago when we parted ways with our Food and Beverage partner Karl Loepp and I formed a two person committee to find a replacement. Karl and I approached pretty much every restauranteur in town before we finally found a new partner. People in the business know how hard managing food service in a private club really is. Running a restaurants is much simpler.


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