New grocery programs at Reynolds Lake Oconee and Hammock Dunes Club are helping to supplement a weakened supply chain while adding value to membership.
When the shelter-in-place order came down from the Governor of Georgia, Reynolds Lake Oconee in Greensboro closed all but one of its five clubhouses. The one kept open—The National Tavern—is newer, centrally located and functions more as a free-standing restaurant than a typical clubhouse. It also has a roundabout out front.
“We quickly shifted to a to-go model, using the menu that was already in place at the Tavern,” says Derin Moore, CMC, Director of Culinary Operations and Executive Chef. “We had to furlough hourly employees, so all of the salaried chefs moved here and we began offering carryout and delivery.”
The program was an instant hit with the club’s 4,000 member families. But Moore saw another need he was eager to address.
“There’s only one big grocery store in our area, and the shelves clear out quickly,” says Moore. “I drew up a list of the supplies that always seem to be out of stock and asked my distributors if they could consistently supply us with those products, so we could offer them to our members.”
Reynolds Lake Oconee’s grocery offerings grew to total 54 items, including bleach, toilet paper, ground beef, all-purpose flour, fruits and vegetables.
“We’re seeing between 3,000 and 5,000 pieces of groceries going out each week since we started the program,” says Moore, adding that the club is pricing products slightly over cost, which represents a significant savings for the members compared to the local grocery store.
Moore worked with the club’s tech team to add an online ordering function to the Reynolds Lake Oconee website, so grocery orders could be placed and filled easily. The system generates reports at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., so Moore can order accordingly. Pickups are then scheduled for Wednesdays and Saturdays.
“On a typical Saturday, we’ll do about 200 orders,” says Moore. “On Easter, we did 420. It’s been a really useful service for our members.”
On pickup days, Moore and his team turn the Tavern’s ballroom into a stockroom (see photo, below), complete with dry storage, refrigerators, freezers and rows and rows of tables that are organized alphabetically. At pickup, one staff member radios the member’s name back to the expeditor, who assembles the order and passes it to a runner who places it directly into the member’s car.
Lance Cook, Executive Chef of Hammock Dunes Club in Palm Coast, Fla., saw a similar need for groceries within his membership. But instead of just basic supplies, Cook has been sourcing a wider variety of products, including everything from lamb racks to lobsters.
“The hardest part has been working around the distributor’s new delivery schedules,” says Cook. “There is so much value in offering this to our members, who don’t have to go to the grocery store and contend with other shoppers or hunt for products.”
Hammock Dunes is also selling alcohol as part of its grocery program, which has been just as successful as the club’s carryout and regular grocery offers.
“My biggest concern is that when we eventually reopen, members are going to continue to want these types of programs,” Cook says. “We will need to quickly figure out if and how we will continue to provide these services.”