Clive L. Smith brings a fresh perspective to his new post as General Manager/COO of Waynesborough Country Club, Paoli, Pa.
As the newly minted General Manager and COO at Waynesborough Country Club (WCC), in the Philadelphia suburb of Paoli, Pa., Clive L. Smith, CCM (above, right) is hard at work carving a new path for both himself and the club, which is marking its 50th anniversary this year with a series of celebratory events.
A big part of that new direction, according to Smith, includes finding out-of-the-box ways to further elevate WCC’s dining experience while improving service, training and even the dining facility itself.
Smith plans to draw on Waynesborough’s rich history as well as his own experience as Clubhouse Manager at Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, Pa., where he worked closely for many years with Executive Chef (and C&RB contributor) Jerry Schreck. At the same time, Smith and WCC’s Executive Chef David Daddezio, who moved about a year before Smith to Waynesborough from Merion, where he was an Executive Sous Chef, will now collaborate to implement fresh ideas that can further elevate their new club’s food-and-beverage operation.
Their goal? To make the next 50 years at WCC even greater than its first half-century.
C2C: What brought you to WCC?
CS: At Merion, I was the “number two” manager. But I am at a point in my career where I’m ready to be “number one.” To move forward meant leaving Merion, which was intimidating and exciting all at once.
I was fortunate to find that WCC is a strong club with a solid foundation and a wonderful membership. There are plenty of opportunities here to challenge myself and help make this already-great club even better.
C2C: Can you compare Merion and WCC? Are they similar?
CS: Both have a great membership and we even have some members who belong to both clubs. Merion is known for its championship golf and outstanding dining operation, whereas WCC has great golf and great dining as well as swimming, tennis and paddle. WCC must have an equal balance between all of the different parts of our operation, while always being very family-focused.
C2C: Has your experience working together at Merion with David Daddezio helped you both at WCC?
CS: Absolutely. Chef and I have a strong partnership. We trust one another and have an open line of communication. We also know each other’s strengths, so we can draw on those as we make plans and move forward. Chef has some great ideas about how we should elevate food and beverage here. And he has my support to reach those goals.
C2C: What skills do you value most in Chef Daddezio?
CS: He’s incredibly member-focused. He listens—really listens—to the members. He wants to please them, and he will bend over backwards trying to find new ways to do so.
Jerry Schreck was a great mentor for him, both as a chef and as a manager. At Merion, Jerry and I were in sync. We thought the same way and could finish each other’s sentences. Chef Daddezio and I don’t have that dynamic yet, but we’re getting there. Also, Chef Daddezio’s food is awesome.
C2C: What skills do you value most in a club chef in general?
CS: A good club chef needs to have flawless technical ability while also being a strong manager. He or she needs to be adept at balancing labor and food costs, while simultaneously guiding, mentoring and teaching the staff. It’s also important that the chef is personable, so he or she can draw the best qualities out of every member of the team.
A good club chef needs to be creative, curious and innovative, without being ridiculous. He or she needs to understand that this is a club, and that being a club chef leads to different challenges than being a restaurant or hotel chef.
C2C: WCC is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. What are some things the club hopes to
accomplish in the next 50 years?
CS: Lots! From a facility standpoint, we’ve recently hired a master planner to help us develop a new facility master plan that will transform our facilities.
Right now, WCC’s clubhouse is like a colonial home, with lots of little rooms. It’s modern, but still has that rustic elegance. As we reestablish our identity, we’ll refine who and what we are, and renovate our space to fit our changing needs.
Our dining spaces will play a key role in this project. Improving the F&B operation is really the first step to improving our facility, and it will take us to the next phase of life.
C2C: How far along are you with the plan?
CS: It’s still very early. We’re hoping to present to the members in the fall.
C2C: How will menus and food-and-beverage continue to evolve at Waynesborough?
CS: In his short time here, Chef has already made great strides in elevating our menus so that they are seasonal and fresh. He’s constantly tweaking and adding new specials, while always keeping member favorites available, even if they aren’t on the menu.
C2C: What about service?
CS: We’re in the process of changing our service culture. We want to be more receptive to our members’ wants and anticipate their needs before they even know they need something. We want to learn better from our mistakes, and we want to get the entire staff on the same page. This means managers are doing a lot of coaching and teaching, but it’s a fantastic opportunity to make our club better.
C2C: Service is a really important part of the food-and-beverage operation at Merion. Are there any things that you’ll try to carry over from your time there?
CS: I would like to mimic the way we focused on the details at Merion, and the way we fine-tuned those details until they were perfect. But to get there, we have to start with the basics. We have to build confidence with the membership that we will deliver. And we have to build confidence in the staff that they have the ability and support to deliver.
C2C: What have been the keys to learning about the culture of your new club?
CS: The Board has been very supportive in bringing me up to speed. I’ve put in a lot of hours. I’ve asked a lot of questions. And I’m doing a lot of listening and observing.
C2C: What are you hearing?
CS: The members here truly love their club. And they are proud of it. But they want us to pay closer attention to the finer points of the operation. They want us to be more consistent across the board.
C2C: What skills do you bring to the table that will help do that?
CS: I’m passionate about what I do and I’m a creative thinker. I hope to offer a new and fresh perspective on how we run the operation. I also hope to introduce new events and programs that will enhance what we already have.
C2C: Like what?
CS: I started a program at Merion called “Sundowner Dinners” that was extremely popular. We’ve done those here, too (see photo, above). I was also instrumental in building the wine program at Merion, which I’ll also help with here.
I’m a very hands-on and involved manager. So by keeping a close watch on spending and working with our vendors to improve pricing, I hope to add value for the membership.