In an attempt to retain existing members and lure new customers, country clubs continue to enhance their food-focused programming.
Compared to other industry segments, country club foodservice is unique due to the fact that these operations typically have a built-in customer base in the form of their members. In the past, most country club restaurants were reserved for members, but increasingly these facilities provide access to the general public. This change is attributed to the need to increase revenues and covers.
In 2011, country clubs reported an increase in food and beverage revenues of approximately 5.7 percent compared to 2010 levels, according to the Club Managers Association of America (CMAA), located in Alexandria, Va. The bulk of these revenues came from banquets.
As they strive to retain existing members and recruit new ones, many country clubs are differentiating their facilities via different events and available programs — an increasing number of which center on food and dining. For example, brunches for holidays like Easter, Mother's Day and Father's Day have become more common.
New events provide opportunities for country club management to address current food trends, according to Catherine M. Gustafson, professor at the University of South Carolina's School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management. Programs may include private tastings, cooking classes, visits from celebrity chefs, cooking demonstrations or wine and food pairings.
An increasing number of country club restaurants are addressing other trends as well, including healthier eating and the preference for locally sourced produce, meat, seafood, beer and other items.