Kelly Greens G&CC’s Executive Chef Drew Tait and his team are expanding their outdoor dining to better serve members through COVID and beyond.
Here at Kelly Greens Golf & Country Club (Fort Myers, Fla.), we recently had a large renovation project that did not pass the vote back in March, mainly because COVID-19 was on the rise and the stock market was falling like a stone. Members were uneasy about a large renovation I believe. After these results, we regrouped and decided we would look to create a better outside dining experience without the huge expense. Between my F&B team, clubhouse maintenance and our golf course superintendent we came up with a plan to add a 50-seat patio off of our existing private dining room.
The main goal of this new space is to see how well it is utilized and if a larger expansion would be warranted down the road.
There are many different things to consider when starting a project like this but doing a smaller version of what we would like to do latter on will allow us to work through any problems and learn from the experience before investing further. But during this time in the world, when it is imperative to be able to have properly social distanced tables in the dining room, this outside areas will help us a lot. Our dining room capacity is reduced by over half so having the outside space for high season will help us to maintain current revenues and cover counts even as we follow social distancing guidelines.
We got bids on clearing, grading and installing pavers. We added a fence to enclose the area and came up with a plan to make a new pathway from the parking lot, through my current garden area, connecting to the new patio. This will allow access to the practice facility, driving range and new outside dining area. It will also allow me to feature all of the different fruit trees and herbs we grow in our garden throughout the year, where the members cans see them up close, heading to different areas of the club.
This new project is very exciting. It will allow us to control the members experience better from the get go, giving them a comfortable and scenic way to access the club. It also highlights the outside dining area as members pass through it on their way to play golf, tennis or even head to the pool. We still have some logistical things we need to work through like food delivery, server stations, and the impact of weather and insects, but hopefully, by October 1, we will have this project completed and be able to introduce a new dining experience to our membership for this upcoming season.