Member Feedback – December 17, 2012

Message:
I think the departure of BRG is very good news. They were terrible in all respects: bad food quality, bad/slow service, bad attitude. I outlined problems in my survey response earlier this fall, including (1) in early summer poolside, I saw the chef wipe sauce off my husband’s hamburger with a dish rag (!), (2) total inability to handle busy lunchtimes in the summer and (3) unwillingness to clean up (once I told one of them I had stepped on some spilled french fries poolside; the BRG person laughed). I was very surprised when the
survey results came back so positive. I think they were just a low-quality, unprofessional group of people.

Doing the food in-house would solve another problem: BRG’s refusal to address Cafe issues that they thought were not their responsibility. I told them repeatedly this summer that the patio floor and furniture were dirty. (It gets gross and sticky out there — should have constant cleaning.) They told me that wasn’t their job; it was the Club’s job. In any event, it never got cleaned.

I think the Cafe needs to get fundamentals right — simple, decent food; cleanliness; prompt service — and not worry about fancy/gourmet/special food or events. Thank you for addressing this issue and soliciting member input.

Message:
thanks for working on this my thought is- keep it simple burgers, beer etc real basic plus a little upscale– let the excellent tpc management manage it, a small operation, no outsource, no five star french menu real simple- junk food is ok we can all eat healthy at home thanks for taking the time to work on this

Message:
Not surprised B&B didn’t work out. Granted our cafe is a tough place to make work, but went to their restaurant once. Couldn’t find anything on the menu I really wanted to order – family felt the same way. When food came – was not good and definitely would go back.
Similar to the Tiburon Grill – terrible menu – mediocre food.

Main idea for cafe is tasty, healthy fresh food, but keep it simple. Make variations by week so people don’t get tired of the same thing.

Suggestions:
Morning/Breakfast:
Coffe drinks (lattes etc.), smoothies/protein drinks (Jamba Juice lite), purchased baked goods from the local bakeries, possibly oatmeal and eggs and fresh fruit (all day).
Lunch: Smoothies, salads, sandwiches (include kid options such as grilled cheese and PB&J), soups (quality hamburgers & grilled chicken on the weekends)
Afternoon; after school snacks, coffee/tea, dessert
Dinner: Salads, pizza, grilled chicken, quality burger with options (The Counter), soup (cold weather) and pasta options.

Hope you figure out a way to make it work. Thanks!!

Message:
I believe the failure largely had to do with the poor quality of the food they served. From week one, when I ordered crudites and was served brown cauliflower, the “healthy” (i.e., fresh) food they served was of poor quality. So all you could count on was a decent chicken finger or pizza.

I am fine with returning to an in-house cafe operator, and agree the idea of aligning goals makes sense, but think it is ridiculous to consider doing so without a food and beverage minimum. We need that to make the cafe functional.

Message:
I’m not shocked by this news. I stopped coming to TPC and spending time at the club after the cafe changed. The cafe lost the personal attention/feeling that it had before. It was like coming to some random resturant. Not my club. What’s the answer? I can assure u it’s not the country club environment that u tried to estaish. It’s not a Country Club. It’s swim and tennis club. I truly bive if Austin would have been given an administrative person to help with the details then we would not be in this situation. I really missed the Friday night BBQ’s that was one of my favorite things a out TPC. But that fun vibe disappeared. I spent hardly anytime at the club this year because of these issues. I’m guessing TPC profits were down as well. Go back to the simplicity of the club. Basic food and basic cost. Good luck.

Message:
I agree that the Cafe should be run in house, not outsourced. I think one of the biggest problems with the cafe is trying too hard. It is a cafe, not a restaurant. The basics are terrific, but don’t expect full families to eat other than weekends. Parties and familiy nights are great, but when you have them too often people probably aren’t so excited to come as they can always go next week.

Message:
We haven’t been in over a year – solely because it’s overrun with children, and we can’t hear ourselves think. I think it’s wonderful there is a place for the parents to take their children, but if there were one night a week (or one night a month) that was “adults only”, we would definitely try to go and support it.

Message:
A Mom’s Perspective: I agree with you that there was a sort of disconnect with the current staff at the Cafe. That was partly due to outsourcing and new faces working there on any given day. And I never felt treated like a “member”, more like a random visitor. It was
uncomfortable compared to the previous cafe management. I stopped using the cafe because the food was inconsistent on the adult menu, often missing certain ingredients listed, with long wait times; and I didn’t like the setup. I occasionally bought the junk food for my kids because the other items were unappetizing and never what I expected. I quickly learned that I could make a much more appetizing meal at home in shorter time. I was disappointed seeing the cafe so empty this fall.

Healthy items are great. The expectation in Marin is for plenty of fresh and healthy ingredients, fruits, vegetables and breads, etc. You can keep the menu simple, but whatever you make, make it well and keep it fresh. TPC is a great club and that patio should be crowded on a sunny afternoon.

Message:
I agree with your observations/intuitions under “structure.” Shame that we gutted community atmosphere of W and F nights in 2012 (ie, a big part o what made the club so special for us in prior years), but we can get it back! Thanks or your commitment to making the place great.

Message:
I like the idea of keeping the cafe operations in-house and have always been in favor of a food and bev. minimum. I liked the idea of the outsourced model before the obvious flaws became apparent. I did appreciate the food quality and didn’t mind the prices. I also
appreciated that they were open 7 days a week –something that is important to me regardless of who operates the club.

Message:
I think you should beg Austin and Josh to come back to the club! They did an outstanding job and really understood the needs of the members. The club has not been the same since they left and we hardly use it anymore which is a shame. I wish that a membership vote was taken before the decision was made to fire Austin and his group. Obviously the members had the final say in that they are no longer using the cafe. I don’t think it was the wrong partnership, I just don’t think it is a good idea to outsource a for-profit operation. We felt “nickel and dimed” with this group and felt that the food was not worth the price. The pricing and quality under Austin’s regime had the right balance and you need to continue with their model. I hope you can remedy this situation because we would like the club to be what it was when we joined. Please also try to get the “teen room” up and running because they would like someplace to go when they are at the club, especially if the cafe is closed. Another problem is that the club was closed too long last year that members found other places to go and got into different routines. I hope it will not be closed too long this time. One more point, I think one way you can bring in additional
revenue to the cafe is to charge non-members an additional amount, perhaps 10% or so. Anyway, thanks for your time and I hope you have success with the new cafe operation.

Message:
Mike, I appreciate your candid letter about the Cafe. I have restaurant experience and would be happy to participate in a limited capacity to develop a new plan for the operation. Tell me how I can help.

Message:
My wife and I completely agree with your synopsis. The food was never consistently good under the departing operator which is why we as a family did not frequent it as much as the years before. We hope that you and the board can find the right person to bring back the good attributes (friendly, consistent and always with a smile) that Austin contributed to the cafe. And we had to laugh at the comment that we’re not into chef-inspired food-the chef inspired food wasn’t good which is why no one wanted it.
Good luck!

Message:
I am not sure I understand your reasoning to encourage a change in the membership’s behavior via the cafe experience? i have been a member since 1968 and have seen many changes, including the new building etc. I realize the membership has changed most dramatically since then as it is now a much more affluent group…I paid $350 to join. I don’t believe it is practical to expect member behavior to change via a Cafe. There must be many other ways to achieve this goal and it seems that many efforts are made to do this through a variety of activities. When my children were young the “cafe” offered hot dogs, hamburgers, lemonade etc. and there was always a long line to buy lunch. If mostly
young people use the cafe, maybe your goal is unrealistic for the club.

Message:
Solid message Mike. Kudos. I will be listening for comments and suggestions as best I can.

Message:
I agree that there is no social fabric at the club. I and my husband are empty nesters and use the club primarily for fitness and tennis. I would like to have seen more adult only activities such as crab feed held a couple of years ago. Everything at the club is geared toward families; there are many adult-only units and there doesn’t appear to be any activities geared for this group.

Message:
My group, RBYC, has a dinner/dance scheduled for Jan. 26th with menu & price already settled with B&B. Is that still in place? Need to know ASAP.

Message:
Thank you for your detailed note explaining the status of the cafe. I agree with you and think having the cafe operated “in house” – like all other depts – will help foster a deeper/stronger community. That being said, I think the most critical component is menu and subsequent pricing. I don’t expect a 5-star quality experience at the cafe, but
producing quality food in a timely manner and at a reasonable price
point is paramount to the cafe’s success. The 15% service charge that was added when Brick & Bottle came in was off-putting to me, considering food was ordered at a counter, and there was no service element. I look forward to seeing the new incarnation of the cafe and
hope the balance of quality food and pricing is top of mind. Thank you.

Message:
I think we should own the P/L for the cafe. Its losses must not get out of control, but we can’t torture its performance over the next 18 months while it finds its sweet spot. Have the cafe committee post the top job as a “search” and see who applies over the next 4 weeks. Have a small core of professional staff with lots of seasonal help from member’s college age kids who need jobs. Look closely at the feedback from Brick & Bottle–our main food items are CHICKEN STRIPS/FRENCH FRIES/BURGERS/CHEESE PIZZA. B&B is right about a lot of how the TPC is today and will likely be for some time. What a thankless job you have, but I certainly appreciate your work.

Message:
I think that the tipping which caused a lemonade to be $4 was a big problem. I like the idea that it be not a profit area for the club. I like the idea of a full service bar, as well as, a reasonably priced place to eat. Thanks for doing all of this!

Message:
Like the idea of bringing the food service in-house again where we can control the biz. I think we should open up the cafe with french doors on both sides of the fire place to allow easy access to the pool area. A fire pit on the back patio is a no brainer.

Message:
I was not at all pleased with BRG, so I am happy to hear change is planned. With regard to mixed message (healthy/junk), the parents are filling out the survey asking for healthy fare and the kids go to the cafe ordering junk. I vote to let the parents decide. Members did want chef-inspired food when Austin was here. I was not planning to order brussel sprouts on a regular basis, but Austin’s recipe was persuasive. I was happy with Austin’s menu and his staff. Those were the good ol’ days, in my opinion.

Message:
We haven’t been in over a year – solely because it’s overrun with children, and we can’t hear ourselves think. I think it’s wonderful there is a place for the parents to take their children, but if there were one night a week (or one night a month) that was “adults only”, we would definltey try to go and support it.

Message:
I agree with the following:
++ it is not a full fledged restaurant, but it is more than just a coffee shop
++ members who want chef inspired food don’t look to the TPC for it; they have other choices in Tiburon
++ sadly way too many mothers (and fathers) feed their kids and themselves “junk” which is a terrible indictement of self-enlightened Tiburon
++ the average age of most patrons is under 18 and that won’t change. The solution is not to build a BBQ poolside–there is already too much going on by the pool and not enough room.

I whole heartedly agree the Club should staff the the cafe with its own employees. If the problem with Austin was truely financial, it is now clear that the Club will not support a quality food facility at a breakeven point whether staff is in house or outsourced.
Much as I would like for the TPC to have a quality restaurant, it won’t work (I can go to the SFYC for my upscale club dining). Hopefully however we can do something better than the hot dog window of old that offers at least some healthy food along with the obligatory junk.

Message:
I was furious when (in my experience & with no full information disclosure) Austin, Josh & Co were fired without notice. I thought they did an excellent job in a difficult environment and were both unsupported by management and unappreciated by most. From my
perspective, they made the cafe work despite the issues brought up by B&B above. My suggestion would be to bring back whatever would be closest to their original model, institute a member minimum and just get the thing open. We were closed all last winter and now I expect that will happen again with this fiasco. When a place is closed for months (and/or people lose their ‘friends’ running it) folks make other plans and patterns – it is difficult to get them back. I believe there WAS a strong “social fabric” there before. For what it is worth, I never held Chris, Buddy or the rest of the B&B gang responsible for what I felt was a bad decision – I liked all of them and feel like they gave it their all. I supported the ‘new’ cafe (although not the decision that brought them there) and will miss them. My biggest request at this point is to get the cafe open again as quickly as possible. The closed and dark ‘social area’ is a downer from all perspectives and only further serves to drive people to form other patterns and decrease even further whatever little ‘social fabric’ may be left at TPC at this point. I am very disappointed again.

Message:
Mike, I agree with you. For all the issues 2 years ago, it was in retrospect a much superior experience and one that I would have preferred to continue. That said, I also agree much can be done to improve the experience and the P&L and some of the comments above do resonate, in particular the nature of the facility itself.

Message:
I’ve been with clubs around the world. Never saw one with outsourced food service where that was more than a deli in practise, which is what ours feels like both in decor and food choices. Set up is not conducive to socialization with new members. Seems clear that would be hard to run as for-profit unless there were lots of events.

Message:
I have many ideas/comments, and our family is/will be a core user of the cafe from both a social perspective and food service perspective for many years, with 2 adult tennis players and kids ages 4-12, who spend much of their time at the club. I disagree with much of the B&B assessment, and too many ideas to write here, but would be happy to have a conversation with anyone who cares to listen!