This Colorado club took on an ambitious replacement of an old facility and introduced new kitchens, restaurants, lounges and beverage bars.
One of Colorado’s premier private golf clubs, Columbine Country Club in Columbine Valley, sits just minutes from downtown Denver. During its 62-year history, this 18-hole championship course has hosted the PGA Championship, five Ladies Professional Golf Association tour events and other tournaments, including the U.S. Amateur sectional qualifier and the qualifier for the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship.
“The golf course is one of the best in the world, but despite renovations of services over the years, the 1950s clubhouse hadn’t kept pace with members’ and prospective members’ expectations for amenities, including enhanced food and beverage services,” says Michael Bratcher, PGA, CCM, COO and general manager at Columbine Country Club.
“Our mission was not only to help the club prepare for its future with a more diverse array of social and wellness offerings but also to foster an identity through the design that speaks to an active Colorado lifestyle,” says Robert Yager, principal and director of architecture at Marsh & Associates Inc. an architecture, planning and interiors firm in Greenwood Village, Colo.
“The 56,000-square-foot clubhouse design has a European flair with a Colorado sensitivity befitting the Columbine Valley neighborhood,” Yager says. “With Coloradans’ penchant for the outdoors, golf course views are featured via broad expanses of glass, which in turn open to patios and terraces to take advantage of the area’s year-round abundance of sunshine.”
The indoor-outdoor connectivity remains central to the club’s identity and atmosphere, Yager says. “Outside, the contiguous terraces and enticing fire pits invite open-air dining and socializing from morning to night.”
Architecturally, the club members wanted a facility that conferred a sense of history, suffused with materials befitting the Rocky Mountain region. The design blends old-world chateauesque forms and massing with a mixture of native sandstone and stucco external veneers. Roofs alternate between a lightweight synthetic slate and bronze-hued standing-seam metal. Door and window trim and overhead gabled trusses, hewn from Douglas fir heavy timber, provide a traditional counterpoint to the more contemporary fenestration and interior furnishings.
Food and Beverage Upgrades
In addition to a variety of golf-related developments, the design team’s collaboration also resulted in several upgraded and new food and beverage areas. A lower-level space provides food and beverage storage and houses a cozy, rustic wine-themed private dining room dubbed The Cellar.
Dining and social event spaces on the main level include The Lounge, which services the patio from its double-sided bar; The Turn, a grab-and-go bar featuring smoothies, juices, coffee and breakfast and lunch menu fare; The Columbine Room for family dining and access to the members’ recreational lawn area; The Gallery for adults-only dining and member functions; and the women’s lounge with indoor/outdoor dining and a view of the golf course. The main level also contains the event space/ballroom and a main kitchen supporting all the food and beverage operations and catered events. The club also offers Table 55, a booth inside the kitchen for exhibition-style meals personally prepared by the head chef.
The upper level features the President’s Room and Sunset Room overlooking the golf course and courtyard for smaller meetings and groups; indoor/outdoor dining facilities for the men’s locker room, which also overlook the golf course; and a satellite kitchen that supports the men’s and women’s lounges and The Turn. The poolhouse kitchen and cafe reside in another building a few hundred yards from the clubhouse, which were remodeled as an earlier part of the overall project.
“We worked to provide unique experiences in all food and beverage areas that are highly visible to guests,” says William Caruso, FFCSI, ISHC, founder of WC&P, the project’s foodservice design consultant. “The services will help the club keep existing members and attract new ones. And we’re proud of the fact that the project was completed in less than two years.
“The club members met with us numerous times to explain their goals,” Caruso adds. “They stressed that any new production areas had to be carefully reviewed with numerous culinary staff.”
Planning started in 2015, construction began in the spring of 2016, and the project was completed in the fall of 2017. “Completing the project within this time frame and within budget required the team to use a recently renovated — done in 2016 — poolhouse kitchen and bar while the old clubhouse was completely demolished and reconstructed new,” says Stephen Young, FCSI, partner and director of global design at WC&P. The $2 million renovated poolhouse kitchen contains a display pizza oven, charbroiler, fryers, convection oven and ware- and dishwasher.
Ongoing dining and special events took place in a large tented structure during the clubhouse rebuild.
All was going quite smoothly during construction until a fire in the club-owned warehouse on the property destroyed about 30 existing pieces of equipment, including combi ovens and reach-in refrigerators set to go into the new kitchen. “Everyone had to jump through hoops to re-specify, make sure the proper utilities were in place and assure that delivery of replacement equipment was on the critical path with the construction and installation schedule to ensure a good final result,” Young says. “We had to specify and reengineer field conditions for new equipment to be utilized. The utility and size attributes of the existing equipment varied from that of the new.
“It was important to get all the equipment specified correctly because it had been 50 years since the original building was constructed, and now another major renovation probably won’t take place for another 50 years,” Young adds. Fortunately, everything fell into place quickly after hitting that roadblock.
“Deliveries arrive in the middle of the night in a gated area. This obscures delivery trucks from the street,” says Chris Franke, clubhouse manager.
Staff move deliveries to the clubhouse’s lower level, which contains walk-ins, a dual-temperature refrigerator/freezer, dry goods storage, a liquor room and a temperature-controlled display wine cellar. The Cellar, a cozy, rustic, wine-themed private dining room, also sits on this floor. The club’s three sommeliers support this room as well as the club’s other dining rooms and lounges.
Staff take menu ingredients to the main-level kitchen, which contains walk-in coolers for produce, meat and dairy and a walk-in freezer. “The kitchen was strategically placed to be at the center of service for multiple dining locations,” Young says. “An elevator is the spine of the design, so food and beverage products can be received, stored and distributed to key locations from behind the scenes without disrupting the kitchen.”
The main kitchen contains an a la carte production and pickup area and a separate banquet production and plating area. “Members and their guests can dine at a chef’s table and watch production while they interact with the chefs,” Bratcher says. “Other than that interaction, the kitchen is a silent space where culinary staff work without talking unless absolutely necessary. We live-plate everything, and it’s incredible how the staff works with such synchronicity in this space.”
“The kitchen’s main attraction, a cooking suite, allows culinary staff and the chefs to see each other continuously during production,” Franke says. “Each person is responsible for their whole dish rather than several people preparing parts of a meal. This is a very efficient way to prepare food and evens out the load for each staff member. The quality is higher because one person can control when all the parts of the orders are completed.”
Each side of the suite contains a six-burner range with a convection oven beneath. Staff use the ranges to saute vegetables including French green beans and fingerling potatoes. The ranges heat soups and ingredients for burrito bowls.
On one side of the suite, staff use the plancha to sear trout for trout amandine, pork chops, beef tenderloin and steak frites. Many of these menu items are finished in a salamander or convection oven. Staff use one portion of the plancha to keep pots with sauces hot. “A pot of water is also always boiling here for the pasta dishes,” Franke says. Staff use a charbroiler to prepare cedar-plank salmon, burgers, duck a l’orange and barbecue chicken nachos.
On the other side of the suite, staff use a griddle top with a convection oven beneath and salamander above to prepare seared sea scallops and Colorado striped bass. Two adjacent fryers heat calamari, chicken tenders and french fries. “I added an undercounter freezer adjacent to the fryers,” Franke says. “We don’t use a lot of frozen items, but the ones we use must be within an arm’s-distance reach for expediency.”
A pizza oven nearby heats pizza, flatbreads and appetizers on the dinner menu. A rotisserie oven will be added to roast whole chickens and leg of lamb.
Staff working on salad prep have access to two 60-inch-wide refrigerators across an aisle. They prepare salads such as Columbine salad with mixed greens, blackberries, mandarin oranges, roasted almonds, goat cheese and lavender vinaigrette; other salad options include warm spinach, Nicoise, Asian miso and chef’s seasonal Cobb. Customers can request add-ons that include chicken, salmon or steak to the Columbine and spinach salads. Culinary staff also construct sushi bowls here. On the other side of the suite, staff prepare sandwiches and also have access to two refrigerators.
The expediter stands at the front of the suite closest to the server pickup.
The kitchen includes a dedicated area for banquet preparation. This section supports private dining rooms and the upper-level ballroom. The equipment lineup here includes banquet service carts; a steam table and heat lamps; a six-burner saute range for vegetable and sauce prep; a plancha and a chargrill for searing all the meats and fish before staff place them in a conventional oven beneath or a nearby double-stacked convection oven. In the combi oven, staff prepare salmon, pork tenderloin, braised short ribs, rack of lamb, vegetables and chicken. A slicer and food processor sit nearby. “We removed a kettle because we weren’t using it,” Franke says.
Labor efficiency continues to be an important facet of the project’s design. “For maximizing staff efficiency, staff work on multiple projects, so if their station is cleaned up they can work on prep for banquets,” Franke says.
A central dishwashing area accommodates both a la carte and banqueting.
On the upper level, a satellite kitchen supports the women’s and men’s lounges and The Turn. Equipment here includes a coffee maker, chef’s counter, sandwich and salad refrigerator, a double overshelf, a food warmer, a fryer battery and griddle top range with a convection oven beneath and an exhaust hood above, as well as a reach-in refrigerator and reach-in freezer.
With the present and future state of the environment in mind, designers factored sustainable materials and equipment into the design. The superstructure is entirely framed from wood, including walls, upper floors and roofs, in addition to the exposed heavy timbers. Natural stone veneers are locally sourced from the Rocky Mountains. “The building envelope is constructed to comply fully with the most current edition of the International Energy Conservation Code, employing insulating doors and windows, a high R-value wall and roof skins, energy-conserving HVAC equipment and systems, and occupancy-controlled LED lighting fixtures throughout,” Yager says.
“The operation also features a water-conserving dishmachine, water restrictors on faucets and Energy Star-rated refrigeration,” Young says.
As members become accustomed to their new clubhouse, they are experiencing a level of service and amenities they only dreamed about just a few months ago. They will no doubt continue to challenge the culinary team to meet expectations that rise with each meal served. Bratcher, Franke and the Columbine Country Club team welcome the test.
Facts of Note
- Columbine Country Club Members: 620
- Opened: November 2017
- Scope of Project: New clubhouse that includes upgraded pro shop and spacious locker rooms and lounges, plus a modern fitness facility. Food and beverage changes include a lower-level space for food and beverage storage and a private dining room; new dining and social event spaces on the main level, a grab-and-go bar featuring smoothies, juices, coffee and breakfast and lunch menu fare; an adults-only dining area, event space/ballroom. The main kitchen supports all the food and beverage operations and catered events; and a satellite kitchen supports the men’s and women’s lounges and the grab-and-go bar.
- Size: Lower level: employee dining, 450 sq. ft.; bulk storage/pantry, 570 sq. ft.; beverage storage, 190 sq. ft.; and The Cellar, 350 sq. ft. Main level: main kitchen, 1,800 sq. ft.; The Lounge, 925 sq. ft.; The Columbine Room, 1,200 sq. ft.; The Gallery, 1,100 sq. ft.; The Turn, 350 sq. ft.; the women’s lounge, 900 sq. ft. Upper level: men’s lounge, 1,700 sq. ft.; satellite kitchen, 600 sq. ft., supporting the men’s and women’s lounges and The Turn; The President’s Room, 700 sq. ft.; The Sunset Room, 500 sq. ft.
- Seats: Lower level: The Cellar, 12; Main level: The Lounge, 60; The Turn, 4 inside, 12 outside; Columbine Room, 58; the Gallery, 62; women’s lounge, 32 inside and 20 outside. Outdoor dining pavilion, partially covered with flexible seating for up to 168. Upper level: President’s Room, 18; and Sunset Room, 20 with 10 on terrace; men’s lounge, 58 inside and 40 outside.
- Average Check: $40 (projected)
- Total Annual Projected Food and Beverage Revenue: $2.6 million
- Daily Transactions/Covers: 150 on weekend evenings in warm months
- Peak Season Hours: The Turn, 5:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., Monday, and 4:30 a.m. to 1.5 hours after last tee time, Tuesday through Sunday; The Columbine Room and patio, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday; The Gallery, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; men’s and women’s locker room foodservice, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; Pool Cafe, daily 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day
- Menu Specialties: Global cuisine including Nicoise and Asian miso salads; Columbine bacon cheeseburger; Chicago hot beef sandwich; burrito bowls, ramen and sushi bowls; braised lamb shank; ruby red trout amandine; buttermilk fried chicken; Wagyu flat iron steak; duck a l’orange
- Staff: 281 employees
- Total Project Cost: $24.8 million
- Equipment Investment: $650,000 for new equipment (excludes used and rented)
- Website: http://www.columbinecc.com
- Owner: Columbine Country Club
- Head of Design and Construction Committee: Mike Gass, board member
- COO/General Manager: Michael Bratcher, PGA, CCM
- Clubhouse Manager: Chris Franke
- Executive Chef: Jeff Kenser
- Architect: Marsh & Associates Inc., Greenwood Village, Colo.; Rob Yager and Bryan Webb, principals
- Interior Designer: March & Associates Inc.
- Foodservice Consultants: William Caruso & Partners (WC&P), Denver; William Caruso, FFCSI, ISHC, founding partner; Stephen Young, FCSI, partner and director of global design; Ted Groeger, project manager
- Owner’s Rep: Wember Inc., Denver; Conor Bancroft
- Equipment Dealer: W. West Equipment and Furnishings Co., Denver
- Construction: Hyder Construction, Denver
Meet the Players
Michael Bratcher, PGA, CCM, COO and general manager, Columbine Country Club. Before joining Columbine Country Club in 2015, Bratcher managed clubs in Monterey, Calif., and Telluride, Colo. He began his career as a golf professional and transitioned into club management in 2007.
William J. Caruso, FFCSI, ISHC, founding partner, WC&P. Caruso founded William Caruso & Associates in 1987. The company is now known as WC&P after adding new partners in 2016. With 10 offices around the world, the company has completed more than 9,000 projects in 32 countries.
Chris Franke, clubhouse manager, Columbine Country Club. Rather than pursuing a career in his college major, mechanical engineering, Franke followed his childhood passion to work at golf clubs. After working at Ansley Golf Club in Atlanta he moved to Colorado for a job at Cherry Hills Country Club. He later opened a wine shop in Colorado to put his training as a sommelier into practice. He returned to the country club business when he joined Columbine Country Club in July 2016.
Jeff Kenser, executive chef, Columbine Country Club. Kenser joined the club team in April 2017. In 2008 he was captain of the 2008 student American Culinary Federation team and won the Student Chef of the Year award for Colorado. Previously he worked at Cherry Hills Country Club in Colorado.
Robert Yager, director of architecture, Marsh & Associates Inc. Yager’s 30-year career has included roles at the Newseum (then in Arlington, Va.), Riviera Casino in Black Hawk, Colo. and Snake River Lodge and Spa in Jackson Hole, Wyo. He joined MAI in 2003.
Stephen K. Young, partner and head of global design, WC&P. Young joined WC&P in 1990. He has lived and worked extensively overseas.
1. Coffee maker
2. Wall-mount shelf
2a. Walk-in storage shelving, epoxy wire
2b. Double over-shelf
2c. Dry storage shelving, chrome wire
2d. Overhead double-sided glass rack shelf
2e. Slant rack wall shelf
3. Beverage table w/enclosed base
3a. Prep table w/sink
3b. Worktable w/casters
3c. Soiled dishtable
3d. Clean dishtable
4. Hand sink w/soap and towel dispenser
4a. Scullery sink w/three compartments
4b. Underbar sink
4c. Drop-in sink
5. Walk-in meat cooler
5a. Walk-in produce and dairy cooler
5b. Walk-in cooler condenser
5c. Walk-in freezer
5d. Cooler evaporator coil
5e. Freezer evaporator coil
5f. Walk-in freezer condenser
5g. Sandwich/salad prep refrigerator
5h. Walk-in cooler, banquet area
5i. Underbar ice chest
3j. Underbar refrigerator with s/s top and 6-in. legs and glass doors
3k. Bottle cooler
6. Trash container
7. Exhaust hood
8. Fire suppression system
9. Cooking suite
10. Salamander broiler
11. Griddle-top range w/convection oven
12. Six-burner range w/conventional oven
13. Range w/charbroiler top w/cabinet base
13a. Broiler-top range w/cabinet base
14. Plancha range w/convection oven
15. Fryers w/footprint filter
16. Pizza oven
16a. Two-compartment combi oven
16b. Steamer filter system
16c. Single compartment combi oven
16d. Double convection oven
17. Decorative heat lamp
18. Chef’s counter
18a. Service counter w/wall cabinet
19. 20-qt. mixer
19a. 60-qt. mixer
20. Utility pan rack
20a. Glass dolly rack
21. Banquet service cart
22. Drop-in hot wells
24. Food processor
25. Bin-mounted ice maker
26. Ice bin
27. Water filter, cartridge type
30. Booth banquette and chef’s table
31. Prerinse faucet, backsplash mount
32. Disposer w/control panel
33. Side-loader assembly
34. Rack conveyor warewasher, w/booster heater
35. Vent duct
36. Bar top and die wall
37. Drain board
38. Underbar blender station
39. Soda gun
40. Underbar speed rail
41. Six-head dispensing draft beer tee tower
42. Cabinet base w/s/s top