Clubs are capitalizing on the late-night snacking trend with splurge-worthy dishes members can’t resist.
When considering the way people ate over the last year, an interesting, emerging trend can’t be ignored—the “snackification” of meals. And it’s not just for big events, like the Super Bowl.
DoorDash recently released its Bracket Bites report, which followed American snacking trends from March 2020 through March 2021. It showed that, as Americans settled into the six-month mark of the pandemic, snacking was king.
In fact, 56% of Americans reported enjoying a “second dinner” by partaking in a late-night snack.
While the definition of snacking certainly varies by country and generation, a report from global, science-led nutrition company Glanbia Nutritionals (“Snacks: Trends for 2021 and Beyond”) found an increase in snacking throughout the day led to snacks replacing meals. Not surprisingly, late-night snacks leaned to the more indulgent, while also being flavor-forward.
And the club industry has seen first-hand evidence of the trend.
“For many of our weddings and events, we’ve seen an increase in demand for street foods, more spices and bold flavors for those late-night snacks,” says Joe Longo, Executive Chef of Frenchman’s Reserve Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. “At the same time, members continue to look for well-executed, interesting plates that reflect great technique and quality.
“As banquets continue to recover, there is a huge opportunity for growth with midnight-snack menus,” Longo adds. And in all cases, he says, members and guests at Frenchmen’s Reserve want their after-hours eats to be approachable, fast, casual and fun.
Scott Craig, CEC, CCA, WCMC, Director of Culinary Operations at Myers Park Country Club (MPCC) in Charlotte, N.C., agrees.
“Over the past year, we’ve moved away from shared touchpoints, and it’s a shift we plan to continue moving forward,” Craig says. “In their place, we’ve created interactive action stations, with fresh items prepared a la minute.”
The new approach gives MPCC’s team more opportunities to engage with members and guests, while serving up some splurge-worthy eats.
“Our late dishes are typically high in saturated fat and/or carbs,” says Craig. “Our members are looking for very relatable and readily identifiable comfort foods, to enjoy after a long evening of formal dining, drinking and celebrating.”
Picture a fried chicken and biscuit bar, with tons of toppings.
“The sandwiches are prepared to order, then wrapped in a foil wrapper for guests to take with them as they leave,” Craig says.
Other recent faves include mini-chicken and waffles, snack-size pizzas, sliders, bite-sized hot dogs, and fries with myriad toppings and seasonings. Craig also finds that taco stations are well-received and allow for a lot of culinary creativity.
“Over the years we have had some interesting requests,” says Craig. “One couple met while in school at Virginia Tech and insisted on having breadsticks from a particular pizzeria as a late-night snack. We drove seven hours to pick up and deliver their ‘Gumby’s Bread Sticks.’”
Another couple craved a “McGriddle” sandwich, so Craig’s team spent several days reverse-engineering the recipe to create a similar product on which they could place the club’s initials (instead of the infamous McDonald’s “M”).
Whatever it is that members crave, there is a common theme.
“Midnight snacks need to have a ‘wow’ factor and ‘sizzle’ to attract crowds,” says Longo.
At Frenchman’s Reserve, that means fried chicken steamed buns with cilantro-lime slaw and chipotle mayo, “Mama’s meatballs,” orange cauliflower with candied cashews and jasmine rice, or giant Bavarian pretzels with beer honey mustard.
“They should be familiar, but exciting—and delicious,” says Longo.