Sawgrass CC continues to move the club forward with creative programming and both safe and smart execution.
After navigating a two-month quarantine with sound management and creative programming, Sawgrass Country Club (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.) was able to begin reopening on May 5th. The process, according to Perry Kenney, Assistant General Manager, and Michael Meuse, Executive Chef, has been smooth and filled with opportunity. Below Meuse shares more about the process.
CRC: When did you reopen?
MM: We reopened our Pavilion Deck and Oasis Dining on May 5th, meeting all CDC and local safety regulations. That same week, we expanded our events to three small reservation dinners, even featuring an “Urban Asado” wood-fire grill 4-course meal, a Prix Fixe meal, wine dinner and our traditional fish fry. The dinning, being reservations only, sold out quickly. We took this as an opportunity to maximize the outdoor seating and allow members back into their club after a two-month quarantine.
CRC: How did your reopening process go?
MM: The reopening of the interior dining was a smooth transition considering the circumstances. We had a plan in place that which ensured member safety and, with excellent support from the membership, we reached our goals. The plans we cultivated focused on the safety of our employees and members, ensuring that the Sawgrass experience was not hindered. The overwhelming support from our members that supported our food and beverage teams during quarantine guided us through these difficult times.
CRC: What were some of the biggest challenges?
MM: Some of our biggest challenges were introducing new app technology to the members that allowed the staff to modify service and receive meal orders. Overall, it allowed us the reduce the contact between members and the staff to keep everyone’s health in mind. We are so appreciative of our front of the house team that worked diligently to introduce these changes as smoothly as possible.
CRC: What are some of the biggest changes?
MM: One of the biggest changes would be the new app technology that we plan to implement into the future clubhouses operations.
CRC: How are things going with the new clubhouse?
MM: The construction of our new clubhouse is currently on schedule, the pandemic did not delay our schedule nor affect the budget.
CRC: What have been the hardest elements about the operation that you had to rethink?
MM: The most difficult elements of our operation that we had to rethink included the logistics and movement of staff to increase efficiency all while keeping the safety and health of our staff and members in mind. The flow of service was tricky as we wanted to keep the Sawgrass standards while abiding to the CDC and local regulations.
CRC: How is business compared to pre-covid? and compared to lockdown?
MM: Due to the CDC regulations and recommended social distancing, we are not doing private or large events. Seasonal sales volume is currently 50% off however with a supportive membership. We are not falling far behind.
CRC: What has been the member response to new rules and policies?
MM: The members have been extremely supportive given the circumstances. Though unfortunate that we must limit seating, we are optimistic in the hopes to open back up to 100% when restrictions are lifted.
CRC: Will you keep any of the programs you launched during lockdown? (If yes, which ones and why? If no, why not?)
MM: We plan on keeping the Sawgrass Eats and the online app ordering. They are easy, effective and perfect for those who wish to social distance and dine at home. We would also like to keep the family special to-go’s for the home or beach, they are perfect for the summer seasons sunny days.
CRC: How will this experience impact your operation for the long haul?
MM: In our community, we strive to be viewed as the employer of choice. The club offered full time hours and fully paid medical benefits to all hourly employees for May and June and members also raised an employee relief fund which distributed $50,000 to the club’s employees.
CRC: What’s next for Sawgrass?
MM: We are excited to be working on our social media presence, making ourselves known to more than just our community and focusing on F&B marketing with the membership. The Sawgrass management team is also looking forward to selecting a dedicated group of talented chefs and F&B professionals for the new clubhouse.