Joseph Leonardi, CMC, Director of Culinary Operations at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., is using igloos and fire pits to extend outdoor dining as temperatures in the northeast continue to drop.
The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. has always been a leader in innovation. This year, despite challenges with COVID, is no different.
As fall and winter fast approach, Joseph Leonardi, CMC, Director of Culinary Operations, wanted to create a special dining experience for members while also maintain social distancing and and outdoor atmosphere. His solution? Igloos.
“The igloos provide a new private dining destination for our members,” says Leonardi, adding that each igloos is used for only seating each night and is deeply sanitized after each use. “We have to think outside the box without sacrificing creativity or safety. These igloos do exactly that.”
Each igloos has two vents in the back sides to ensure proper ventilation and constant airflow. TCC went a few steps further, adding air purifiers, heaters and LED lights in each igloo. The igloos measure 12 feet in diameter and are set for between four and six diners on a 48″ round table . They are location on TCC’s second-floor porches and they overlook the fairways.
“We introduced them in the beginning of November by reservation only,” says Leonardi. “We sold out the entire month almost immediately.”
Members who have reserved an igloo can choose to order off the a la carte menu or they request a chef’s table experience with a custom menu crafted by Leonardi and his team.
So far, the only challenge has been the limited availability of the igloos.
“We want our members to feel comfortable at the club, but we also want to give them an opportunity to relax and unwind and enjoy being with their family members outside their homes without having to worry about plexiglass dividers or if others are going to keep their social distance. We wanted to give them something unique and fun.”
All in, Leonardi estimates that the igloos are about a $1500/each investment once you tally up the cost of the structure and the elements needed to create the interior ambiance.
When outdoor dining was the only option, TCC set up a series of fire pits to the side of the first fairway.
“We have 12 fire pits and we use this as an extension of our a la carte dining program,” says Leonardi. “Take out for the members is available through that menu and they can enjoy the fire pits while they eat.”
TCC has also added a small menu at its skeet hut to include grilled pizza, TCC Chili, snacks and beer and wine, that can be ordered and enjoyed by the fire.
“Our hope is to offer the pits throughout the winter,” says Leonarid. “Even once we get a snow fall, it will be inviting for members to sit around a fire, cook s’mores and enjoy the beautiful snowy setting on property.”