Kevin Carroll, GM/COO of the Bath and Tennis Club, is a determined leader with an innate passion for exceeding expectations.
As GM/COO of the Bath and Tennis Club in Palm Beach, Fla., Kevin Carroll, CCM, CCE, is deeply invested in both his members and his employees. He strives to improve the club in myriad ways. He motivates managers, exceeds the expectations of members, and is helping the club to fully realize its potential—especially in F&B.
As the “rookie” at Bath, which he joined in 2018, Carroll brings with him decades of experience at some of the country’s most prestigious properties, including the Atlanta (Ga.) Athletic Club, The Loxahatchee Club (Jupiter, Fla.), and Bellerive Country Club (St. Louis, Mo.).
C+RC: Tell us about Bath and Tennis Club’s F&B Operation.
Kevin Carroll (KC): Our dining is as unique as our club. In addition to our banquet space, we have a cafeteria-style dining room, where members come through with a tray to choose from a buffet line. The space started as a snack bar back in the 1920s and has evolved into the current concept.
C+RC: What’s the most interesting thing on the buffet?
KC: Chicken hash.
C+RC: Has the membership ever wanted to change the concept?
MR: The membership has pushed to maintain this concept, actually. I think the success comes from the quality of the food prepared by Chef [Stuart] Brennan and the culinary team.
C+RC: Does the cafeteria concept allow Chef Brennan to introduce new menu items, or is it the same traditional dishes, like chicken hash, for each meal?
KC: The concept is very flexible. And Chef is great about incorporating more global cuisines and vegetarian items, alongside our traditional items. For example, he recently introduced some Middle Eastern dishes, and the members loved them.
C+RC: Chef Brennan and many of the other team members at Bath have impressive tenure. Why do you think that’s the case?
KC: We have over 35 employees who have been here for more than 30 years. Chef Brennan has been here for 13 years, and our F&B Manager has been here for 20. That’s quite a tribute to the club and its membership.
C+RC: With many clubs struggling with F&B staffing, you seem to have the opposite problem.
KC: Turnover in our kitchen is almost non-existent. We had someone retire this year and we actually had someone else working in another area of the club waiting in the wings to join the culinary team.
C+RC: Why do you think that is?
KC: Chef Brennan has created an amazing work environment. He’s a strong leader, and the culinary team is thriving.
C+RC: What do you respect most about him?
KC: He’s even-keeled, and he is all about pleasing the members. He’s very open to new ideas and constructive feedback, and he does not have a big ego. I think that’s also why there’s such little turnover. He’s a great teacher and mentor. He has a tremendous work ethic, too.
C+RC: So you’re the “rookie,” with only a year under your belt. What’s that been like?
KC: It’s interesting, because the club toes the line between very traditional and wanting to be more progressive in some areas. I’ve been hard at work studying that boundary and finding ways to bring in a breath of fresh air, while still maintaining our history and tradition.
C+RC: What are some of the biggest F&B occasions at Bath?
KC: In-season, we do Friday cookouts on the beach that attracts between 200 and 900 members each week.
C+RC: What’s next for F&B at Bath?
KC: We are looking to increase the speed in which we make enhancements to the menus. We want to move the needle faster. We have to also make members aware of these changes without making them feel like we’re taking away sacred cows.
For example, we have a delicious Moroccan cauliflower steak. It’s a great vegetarian option with outstanding flavors. But we still have a large portion of the membership that will only order filet, so we need to balance both types of members and continue to be open about our offerings.
We are also looking to bring some action into our cafeteria, with chef-attended stations.
C+RC: How will you help the team achieve these goals?
KC: I am the sounding board for the culinary team and the ombudsman between the members and the staff. I will help communicate the messages and provide feedback when needed.
C+RC: You attended the Culinary Institute of America, but you did not continue down that career path to become a chef. How has your CIA experience helped you?
KC: No matter what type of club I’ve worked in, everyone eats. And my education is in food and hospitality. I have a passion for it, and it makes me a more well-rounded manager. I can also speak the language as a peer, which is useful to the team.
C+RC: If you could offer chefs one piece of advice, what would it be?
KC: It’s so simple, but so important: Listen to your members. Give them what they want, and find ways to introduce them to new things in the process.