By BOB WEBER
FGCC General Manager
For The Vista
Thanks to the 3,193 respondents who completed the Fairfield Glade Community Club’s Food and Beverage survey.
We estimate we have about 8,000 residents so this represents a 40% return rate which is very good. The PCA presentation, final report and survey results link can be found on the member side of our website under Admin/Senior Management Team/Dining. We encourage you to look at all of this information.
Our F&B management team is working on an Action Plan to correct the issues noted in the survey, primarily focusing on speed of service, food quality and value for price.
We believe we addressed these issues before reopening Stonehenge Grille but we are tweaking that operation daily to improve all of the above.
Please put us to the test there by joining us for breakfast 6:30 – 11 A.M., or lunch and dinner from 11 A.M. to 9 P.M. If we don’t meet your expectations let our F&B team know during your visit so we can make it right; also send me an e-mail or call me to let me know ASAP. We are committed to exceeding your expectations but we can only do that if we know when we fall short.
Following is some history about our F&B amenities to help you better understand our challenges. I started July 25, 2011 and began to learn about all of the operations in FG during that first five months. In 2011 your dues subsidized the F&B amenities (Legends/Fireside, Druid Hills Snack Bar, Stonehenge Grille and Stonehenge Snack Bar) in the amount of $389k before capital costs.
Dorchester and Heatherhurst snack bars are part of the Golf amenities since they are there solely to support the golf operations and don’t have an F&B amenities kitchen supporting them.
Both Legends/Fireside (LF) and Stonehenge Grille (SHG) were open all year seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
In 2012, we eliminated breakfast at SHG and starting closing LF at 8 P.M. given an analysis of when and where our sales were occurring; our sales increased by $74k that year and we reduced the subsidy to $289k, a $100k improvement.
Each year thereafter we adjusted the operating hours and ultimately closed SHG when the golf course closed for the winter effective December 2014.
Looking at historical information going back to 2011, our sales drop by 50% from October to the winter months of November to March so it didn’t make good business sense to have two restaurants open during this time.
Each year after 2011 our sales were increasing and our subsidy decreasing such that in 2015 we only had a subsidy of $208k; we were moving in the right direction.
In 2016 our sales dropped by 11% and our subsidy was $361k; 75% of that subsidy was during the winter months. We did the survey so we could better understand the reasons for this drop in sales.
Some residents have made comments like the following: “If we can’t make a profit, get out of the restaurant business,” and, “Let someone else run our restaurants.”
While we are not happy with having to subsidize our F&B amenities, they are amenities just like golf, tennis and our other recreational programs for the enjoyment of our members and guests and not designed to be profit centers. Just look at our 2016 financial information on the website and you will note that the only amenity area that had a positive cash flow was Marinas. If you looked at our financial information for the last five years, you would see none of them had positive cash flow over that time frame and all are subsidized by your dues with golf being the largest amount.
Resort communities like FG typically subsidize their F&B amenities (38% of sales on average where our worst year in 2016 was 17%).
Think for a moment about all we do compared to any of your favorite restaurants: LF has 220+ seats which are only full some nights during the busy season and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner 5 days a week (6 for most of 2016), has a Sunday breakfast buffet, does theme buffets like Easter, and private parties at LF and the Conference Center; in 2016 SHG had 150 seats inside and out and served lunch and dinner 7 days a week from April 1 to October 31; these two restaurants are actually competing against each other.
Can you think of any restaurants that do all of this? This creates a lot of added cost but we do all of this because most of our members and guests expect it.
Per PCA, generally only resort communities that generate 50% of their revenues from private parties don’t subsidize their F&B amenities because these events are very profitable if priced right.
In 2016, only 12% of our revenues came from private parties. Any ideas to help us generate more private party business are encouraged. We are currently focusing on the Knoxville market as we don’t see a lot of additional potential in the local area.
I don’t think most of our members want someone else running our restaurants and losing control of them if we can improve our speed of service and food quality issues. Could they even handle the private parties and theme buffets?
I have had more people upset about closing LF for breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Saturday than members who have contacted me about our F&B subsidies. However, we made the decision to do this to streamline our F&B operations to be more cost efficient given our breakfast and lunch sales, and to enable LF to focus on dinner Tuesday – Saturday from 4 to 8 P.M. (60% of annual sales there) plus the popular Sunday breakfast buffet from 8 A.M. to 1 P.M.
This should also enable us to improve our speed of service, food quality and value for price issues at LF. Please let us know how we are doing and don’t hesitate to contact me if our F&B team doesn’t correct any issues immediately. Our motto is “It’s Our Pleasure to Assist You” and we want to exceed your expectations.