Letter #7

Happy Tuesday everyone,

Let’s see, where did we leave off – oh yes, what are members saying and where are we with the Café model and its execution details at this point. Let’s jump right in.

Member Responses

Here’s a link to the compilation of all member responses to the letters so far – the format isn’t pretty but as you’ve heard, it should improve with the site upgrade coming soon. I don’t wear a robe so I’m no judge but I would say there’s a mass of brilliance in the member thoughts with some solid consensus around a number of key points, particularly as it relates to the Café.

Overall, members want the Café back under the Club’s control and not outsourced. They don’t view the Café as a restaurant but they do want a Food & Beverage service at their Club that has the ability to jump between a number of different personalities depending on the time of day and season of the year. You’re thinking Sybil but this isn’t crazy. Morning coffee shop, afternoon snack-bar and evening Café are at least 3 personalities we’ll install into the Club’s Food & Beverage DNA. Not to mention the more event-like times; sunny summer weekend afternoons with dogs and burgers raging by the pool, Friday Night BBQ’s and Wednesday night lawn BYO’s (that’s right, they’re coming back). What else? Some adult events (no, not porn) but perhaps a vintner’s dinner, anything around sports, and of course Memorial/Labor Day shindigs.

Ultimately, hours of operation will be extensive 12-13 hrs/day, 7 days/per week and open 11 months or more per year. Menus will vary from personality to personality but the overall theme will be simple, high-ish quality staples that have always done well at the TPC in addition to a few frequently rotating alternatives in the salad category and beyond. Pre-prepared food will be brought in to supplement the menu for the lightest volume times of operation – morning and weekday lunches. Baked goods and fresh fruit for the morning and some soup and sandwiches for the afternoon to help the grill before it comes on around noon. The biggest takeaway here is: keep it simple while maintaining very high food standards in ingredients and preparation.

What about the look and feel? You felt the same about furnishings as you did about the food – simple, flexible, consistent, comfortable – did I mention comfortable – with a pinch of elegance tying it all together; inside and outside. The house and grounds committee is working on this part of the project and they report that we should see ideas (pictures) in a few weeks. Decision and ordering will follow, this is not a quick complete item but it is a top priority and will be executed very well indeed by that committee, I’m sure. Whenever that day comes, perhaps we should have a bonfire party when we put all of the present Café future onto the heap. Just kidding but it’s the one topic around F&B that is universally agreed upon – along with cheap beer. In any event, there’s a theme for a party there.

Heat! Here’s another frequent response topic, IF we get the model right and people are back on the Café patio – “you have to provide more heat” is almost a chorus response at this point. While not at the top of the priority list, getting the outdoor space more member friendly taking some easy steps to better control the environment and add some fun to it is part of the grand plan. But let’s get through start-up first. I hope it’s all right if you don’t hear much more about this until mid-year. But it will come.

All right, there you go – you said it, either through your notes in response to the letters or at the Café committee meeting last week or in conversation with Jerry or a committee member – these are our marching orders. Thank you … Onward.

Model

At last Monday’s Board meeting a motion was approved to alter the operating model at the Club and fold the Food & Beverage operation into the service category offered to every member. It will no longer be a stand-alone business unit where the profits from a separate P&L compensate the staff as it used to be before we outsourced it last year.

This is not a major turn in the Club’s path but is a slight bend. In the model when a stand alone business unit (fitness, swim, tennis, youth) loses money at the end of the year, the loss is made up from the operating account funded by dues. The Café has always lost money (on either our P&L or someone else’s) every year it’s been open. The shortfall has always been made up for by dues account. So, what’s the difference, why the formal vote to classify the Café as a service instead of a for-profit unit of the Club? The difference is very subtle and speaks to extending a service and the possible added benefit of giving the culture at the Club a chance to change. In a for-profit model, the Club can’t require it’s F&B director to extend services that are sure to lose money – the profitability is their income. The motivation of the director is mis-aligned with the member in a for-profit, eat what you kill, model. See letter #4 for more on this – we covered it. At any rate, it was a unanimously approved measure by your Board.

Food minimum

Okay, if you’re nodding off as I expect, you just got a jolt, based on your responses, if we’re going to speak about a food minimum. There was much more passion around this topic than any other mentioned so far. Responses were binary, there are only two camps with next to no range in between. They two are actually quite close to one another except for 3 small letters: “You absolutely can’t (not) do this!”. Before anyone gets frothy, let me cut to the chase; there will not be a food minimum vote at this time. Wiser minds prevailed upon me to drop the idea of a food minimum until members could see what the heck they’re voting to spend their food minimum on first. In other words – wait until the Café, is up and operating, before going for a food minimum referendum. It’s coming, for sure, but not yet – maybe at year end.

Super Bowl

As you’ve probably read, the Club is having a Super Bowl party. With the Niner’s playing, we expect a big turnout. Please, please, please sign-up ahead of time for this event. I know this is a big departure from our normal behavior at the Club but knowing headcount ahead of time means we don’t waste member money ordering for too many covers and we don’t disappoint members when we run out of food before half-time. Without RSVP’s members get hurt one way or the other – we’d all like to avoid that.

As always, please throw your thoughts down if you have anything you’d like to add. In the meantime, I hope you have a nice week.

And if you have a comment, please leave it below.

All the best,

Mike

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