Lodging Magazine April 2017 : Page 22

› OWNER’S MANUAL››››››››› EXPLAINER CRAFT FOODS COMMITTING TO A TREND IS DANGEROUS FOR A RESTAU-RANT; SOME TRENDS CAN LAST DECADES, WHILE OTHERS CAN LAST MERELY WEEKS. WHEN IT COMES TO CRAFT FOODS, THE TRENDS COULD HANG ON FOR YEARS (THINK CRAFT BEER) OR BE MORE FLEET-ING. RIGHT NOW, WHISKEY AND BOURBON ARE HAVING A MOMENT, OBSERVES SUSAN TERRY. “WHEN YOU START TO SEE A SURGE IN CONSUMER CONSUMPTION OR A SURGE IN CONSUMER ATTENTION TO A SPECIF-IC CATEGORY, YOU WANT TO MAKE SURE YOU’RE ENHANCING THAT CATE-GORY AND TAKING ADVAN-TAGE OF THOSE KNOWN PREFERENCES,” SHE SAYS. WHEN THE WHISKEY AND BOURBON TREND BEGAN IN 2012, SALES IN THE UNITED STATES INCREASED BY 6.7 PERCENT, ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL RESTAU-RANT ASSOCIATION, AND THE MOVEMENT HAS ONLY GROWN MORE POPULAR SINCE. TERRY SAYS, “DE-PENDING ON WHERE THE TREND FALLS, YOU ALWAYS KEEP YOUR EAR TO THE GROUND. YOU WANT TO BE AT THE FRONT END OF A TREND WHEN IT’S IMPORT-ANT, BUT YOU ALSO DON’T WANT TO OVER-COMMIT TO A TREND WHEN IT’S INSIGNIFICANT.” SEAT YOURSELF The Pfister Hotel’s Mason Street Grill. strong and supportive local demographic in the community, he explains, will have the restaurant packed for several nights in a row. If this is executed properly, Spelts maintains, it can create momentum to roll into opening to the public. Yet keeping locals interested in the restaurant after having a strong opening has proven to be almost as difficult as getting them there in the first place. Susan Terry, vice president of culinary and food and beverage operations at Milwaukee-based Marcus Hotels & Resorts, believes that the key to maintaining the success of a hotel restaurant is to focus on what makes all customers happy. Terry says, “It’s really easy to run a business that has strong repeat customers. It’s very difficult to find new customers all the time.” Concepts that serve a large local demographic, she says, will keep customer retention rates high. But even as they’re catering to a local clientele, hotels must also take care not to lose sight of guests needs, which also may vary considerably depending on whether CONNECT the DOTS Set the Table Larry Spelts, vice president of business development at Charlestowne Hotels, shares three indicators that a hotel restaurant is set up for success. Solid finances. “A hotel with a restaurant typically is going to have a financial controller on sight. That provides a tremendous advantage for the restaurant because most freestanding restaurants aren’t in a position to justify having a dedicated financial controller just for the restaurant.” Dedicated sales. “Most freestanding restaurants don’t do a particularly good job with their sales and marketing. However, most hotels have a director of sales, a team of sales directors, and a marketing manager or a third-party marketing firm, giving the restau-rant advantages that it wouldn’t have as a freestanding restaurant.” Quick fixes. “Freestanding restaurants don’t have an engineering department with a chief engineer and maintenance technicians on duty or associated with a property. Hotels have such personnel on hand should the need arise.” 22 LODGINGMA G A ZINE . C OM APRIL 201 7

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