Today’s most successful country clubs understand that the food and beverage department is a vital component to the overall success and profitability.
By investing in a properly designed kitchen, clubs can optimize their food and beverage operations, streamline workflow, control costs, enhance menu flexibility, maintain food safety standards, and maximize revenue opportunities.
Ultimately, a well-designed kitchen ensures a delightful dining experience for members while solidifying the club’s financial stability and reputation as a premier destination.
Club members gather to unwind, socialize, and indulge in exquisite culinary delights.
From sumptuous meals to refreshing beverages, the food and beverage offerings play a pivotal role in the success of any country club.
Not only do they contribute significantly to the overall member experience, but they also serve as a crucial source of revenue.
That’s why a properly designed kitchen is paramount in maximizing those profits and ensuring the club’s financial success.
At the heart of every thriving country club lies a bustling kitchen, where skilled chefs concoct delectable creations that leave members craving for more.
This culinary haven is not just a space for cooking; it’s a strategic powerhouse that directly impacts the bottom line.
A well-designed kitchen sets the stage for efficient operations, seamless workflows, and ultimately, increased profits.
Visionary club manager Gary Ashley of Connecticut’s’ Riverside Yacht Club has long been a proponent of getting food and beverage right.
To better serve its wide-ranging community, the kitchen at Riverside Yacht Club has taken on the challenge of shifting from traditional club food to a menu that is more refined, but still able to please all members.
In recent years, club food across the country has seen a shift to more elevated options, “But you still get those people who want a quick burger or quesadilla—it just has to be the best one around,” noted Ashley.
Variety is key when it comes to offering a first-class food and beverage club program, and it’s what has allowed Riverside Yacht Club to stay relevant throughout its 135 years.
They offer themed dinners as well, such as wine nights and international food nights, in addition to your typical Fourth of July and Memorial Day dinners.
“It’s all about being creative and continually reinventing yourself,” Ashley said. No matter the event, Riverside Yacht Club’s goal is to offer first-class club food that appeals to everyone.
Recently, they decided to reinvent even further, expanding their kitchen by more than twice its original size. “The kitchen had not been renovated in 45 years,” said Ashley.
“When we looked at the volume coming out of that kitchen, it was crazy how small the space actually was. It was really a case of building a kitchen for the 21st century.”
This wasn’t a simple addition of new appliances, either; the kitchen needed a full reboot if it was to continue to serve the club’s growing community.
Rather than completely rebuilding, they decided to expand on the space they already had, which allowed them to keep the original kitchen space.
“The most important thing we did was to go out and look at two clubs that had recently renovated their kitchens,” Ashley said.
The team went to two locations in the area that had also redone their kitchens—one that had expanded on their original kitchen, and one that had started from scratch.
They asked the management at both clubs what they would do differently if they were to do the renovation again.
This allowed the staff at Riverside Yacht Club to make the most informed decisions they could on how to improve their own kitchen.
Ashley talked about a sort of camaraderie between clubs in the area: “No one is trying to completely reinvent anything, so we aren’t worried about stealing each other’s ideas. We all just want to have efficient kitchens.”
Ashley and his Riverside Yacht team have had a 20 plus year relationship with HAFSCO and its visionary leader Tom Capobianco.
The West Haven, CT, based kitchen and supply dealer has forged a reputation as one of the nation’s leading designers of country club kitchens.
“Riverside Yacht Club has been an account of ours for many years,” Capobianco explained.
“What makes their club so interesting is that they probably generate more F&B revenue per square foot than any club in the Tri-State region.”
“I remember having a discussion 15-20 years ago years ago about the future of Gary’s kitchen,” the veteran design executive noted.
“I said you should really consider blowing that back wall out, raise the loading dock and extend the building. Just before the pandemic, he got the go ahead. Of course, like with many of these club projects some member knows someone anda set of drawing were created. In the meantime, Gary called me to show me what had been proposed. I told him, Gary this doesn’t work.”
Once again as they have accomplished at notable clubs from Westchester’s Winged Foot to Baltusrol in New Jersey, Riverside Yacht features clean lines.
It has all the hallmarks of a Capobianco/HAFSCO design with a clearly defined a la carte line and a catering line with plating for banquets.
“Keep in mind, this space could only be elongated. It couldn’t go any wider with so space to expand forwards only backwards into the parking lot,” Capobianco noted.
Riverside’s Ashley is proud of the new kitchen he designed in concert with HAFSCO.
“I just attended the Connecticut Club Manager dinner last month. Gary told me that 17 club managers did a walk through at Riverside to get ideas on how to update their kitchens. He told me every one of them talked about how streamlined the design was. To me it’s all about: cold, hot fry, pick up here, lunch room in back, dry storage over there, simple and perfect.”
One of the key’s to HAFSCO’s success is the company’s ability to use its on-going relationship with its club customers to help them see into the future.
“Five years ago, before the full design, Riverside needed some new ovens. I knew it was a great opportunity to start adding Jade Ranges into Riverside’s kitchens. We installed several pieces with an eye to when we got to complete the full project that we would build it out with the dependability and durability that Jade gives us. I know that Gary and his team will get a good 15 years out of the Jade lineup we installed. I was able to take the same approach with the dish machine and some cook and hold equipment knowing that it would be part of the bigger plan. I’ll bet that pre-planning saved 200k on a $1mill plus kitchen.”
That on-going understanding of the kitchens they are working also enables Capobianco and his team to maximize the efficiency of a club’s staff.
“At Riverside, we were able to create two separate waitress stations. That included using double doors and even two separate ice machines to serve each of the lines. I understand that when you have a tight 6’1” to work with that you have to get the design right because that’s the hub of all of the activity for your waitstaff.
If you work there on the a la carte line, you can grab the garde manger to your left and with hand grab the hot food and you are out the door. It works and Gary is happy because you can do 500 to 600 covers.”
One of the keys to HAFSCO being consistently sought out by Metro New York’s leading clubs to upgrade their kitchens, is the commitment to continue accessing the latest technology.
“One of the interesting innovations we used at Riverside is a DOAS System to tie into Captive-Air’s hoods. It enables a 100% fresh air feed without any recirculation of air. It combines beautifully with our design approach which is to place the compressors on the roof. These rack systems are literally cool because it takes all of the that out of the kitchen.”
Once again by listening carefully to needs of their club customer and taking their experience of designing many of the Northeast’s top club kitchen’s HAFSCO was able to create something special at Riverside Yacht.