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August 2020

A Post-Quarantine Food and Beverage Playbook


By Scott Kauffman

When Myers Park Country Club moved to its current location in 1921 with 350 members and plans for an 18-hole course designed by Donald Ross, the exclusive Charlotte, North Carolina, club set the standard for private club service in the Southeast.

Nearly 100 years later, the prestigious club is still serving its members in the highest of standards, but now Myers Park is trying to help raise the bar industry wide – along with other private clubs - when it comes to successfully navigating the post-COVID-19 world of hospitality. At least that is one way to describe a thoughtfully produced whitepaper written by Myers Park director of culinary operations Scott Craig, clubhouse manager Jordan Kovalcik and director of dining venue operations Brian Sette.

The whitepaper Myers Park produced in conjunction with Club + Resort Chef magazine, “The MPCC Post-Quarantine F&B Playbook,” outlines a path forward for the post-quarantine, pre-vaccine era of the COVID-19 pandemic in a very slick, easy-to read format that is generously being shared to those with interest. To be sure, the COVID-19 pandemic caused more change in a shorter period of time than any other event in the histories of America’s oldest private clubs. Not to mention all leisure and hospitality businesses, for that matter.

As the Myers Park food-and-beverage brain trust put it: “The concept of luxurious hospitality has been completely inverted. It is now defined by minimal contact as opposed to the traditionally accepted high-touch model. Country clubs that are, by definition, gathering places where individuals come together as part of a community for mutual enjoyment. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed that model and, for clubs to remain relevant, we must now represent safety, impeccable sanitation, comfort, reliability and convenience.”

According to the trio, the goal of their whitepaper is to highlight Myers Park’s COVID-19 response and to understand the cultural and operational changes the club will make in order to continue navigating the crisis.  The document was assembled in consultation with the club’s F&B team, along with input from professionals from varying sectors of food and beverage, product distribution and the medical community.

What does all of this actually mean for the future of Myers Park, and other like-minded places and golf facilities? In total, there were dozens of interesting things the club successfully enacted after North Carolina went on a mandated quarantine March 30, and numerous best practices Myers Park continued to do once the state began to reopen in three phases starting May 8.

One of the more interesting actions being taken by MPCC is the re-examination of the food-and-beverage model, specifically as it relates to the suddenly all-important “essential workers” serving MPCC’s members and guests. It is a takeaway all employers should consider now that the pandemic shed such a bright light on this sector of America’s workforce.

For instance, MPCC will consider an across the board pay increase for essential employees. The whitepaper went on to note: “Eating is the primary function for all carbon-based life forms for the continuation of existence. Sanitation is now more crucial than ever. Those employees who procure and prepare food have never been more important to society, especially the ones who chose to keep working to serve their institutions and community as opposed to taking a pay increase from drawing unemployment.

“Having experienced shortened hours during quarantine, employees are likely to come out of quarantine looking for another industry or position in which they can experience the work/life balance that the quarantine-phase provided. The club will need to consider how to offer a better work-life balance.”

Moreover, MPCC notes many of its employees certainly enjoyed the rewarding experience of helping others during the crisis and “may want to incorporate this into their work-lives going forward.”

In conclusion, general manager Mark Bado, Chef Craig, and the rest of MPCC’s team said it will “continue to support the community in ways that are useful and responsible.”

With the thoughtful playbook now being distributed throughout various allied associations, Myers Park is already off to a great start of creating a safe and better tomorrow.

 

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