Club + Resort Chef‘s Vice President – Group Publisher, Tom McIntyre, offers ideas chefs might consider based on trends he’s seen at industry shows.
Have you ever had “tuna” made from tomatoes? Have you ever seen a smoothie made by a robotic arm? I have. And in both cases I wondered, “Do club and resort chefs know about these innovations?”
Over the last few months, I’ve attended a number of tradeshows where the latest ideas and newest technology have been on display. Here are what I view as some of the most interesting takeaways.
Quality and Convenience
During his presentation at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show, Applebee’s President John Cywinski said, “We are all competing for a share of the stomach.”
Think about it: Your members have dozens of dining options beyond the club. Whether it’s a convenience store with a self-ordering kiosk, a quick- or full-service restaurant, or even a drone-delivery system, access to food is endless. So what is your club doing to exceed the convenience, quality and speed of these other dining options?
During the “Future of Restaurants” session at NRA, SevenRooms’ Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder Allison Page debuted the first Amazon Alexa skill for restaurant operators. This is a tool clubs might consider to enhance a variety of operational efficiencies—from marketing, to back-of-house/front-of-house coordination, to increased knowledge about your members and their guests.
Despite our best efforts, anyone can end up with a bad case of lettuce. But a new hand scanner can instantly detect invisible signs of bacteria and viruses.
Protein alternatives were quite visible at NRA. There were plant-based burgers (the Impossible Foods booth was almost impossible to get into), noodles made from pollock, and the aforementioned tuna created from tomatoes.
Your members care about the environment, and manufacturers are responding with products specifically geared toward them, such as compostable straws, sustainable packaging and edible spoons. Members will expect you to incorporate sustainability into your club’s operation.
CBD- and cannabis-infused food are hot topics among suppliers, retailers and chefs. In states where it’s legal, members are going to turn to club chefs for private events, with menus that feature upscale cannabis-infused dishes. Be prepared.
Have you ever considered high-end automated vending for snacking, or beverage machines? I could envision some well-placed machines on parts of the property that are too far from the clubhouse to properly service members and guests. This could be a great additional source of revenue that involves little or no labor.
Pay Attention to Kids
Finally, stop talking about millennials as if they are the future. They are the present. Today’s 8-year-olds are the future. These kids are comfortable with technology and are well-versed on mobile devices. They have high expectations, and demand personalization. How are you connecting with them—and with that in mind, what do your kids’ menus look like?
Beyond the ever-increasing labor line item, I understand that many of these innovations cost money. But the ROI will be there, I believe, if you can find savvy ways to integrate innovation and technology into your club’s food-and-beverage offering.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on these initiatives, but would also welcome your thoughts on trends that you see that we can also pass along to help to continue to educate our community. Please e-mail me your thoughts at email@example.com.