Tabletop Solutions For The New Realities Of Hotel Food and Beverage

Tom colicchio temple court signature eateries

For a number of years, New York City and the nation’s hotels simply couldn’t figure out enough ways quickly enough to stay out of the restaurant business.

With the value of Metro New York retail space and the dramatic building of hotels in newly and soon to be gentrified neighborhoods (Long Island City/Astoria/Dumbo), many hotels are now competing to get top chefs and restaurateurs to bring signature eateries to their properties.

Liz Weiss
Liz Weiss

This new strategy minimizes the investment that the owner needs to put in, allows them to concentrate on their own area of expertise, drawing overnight customers as a destination, and then collecting rent for the food service operation.

From Dirty French in the Ludlow from the Major Group who took over the old Four Seasons’ space, to Robert De Niro and Andrew Carmellini’s Greenwich Hotel restaurant as well as Chef April Bloomfield’s Breslin Bar and Dining Room at the Ace Hotel, top chefs are making their mark In Metro New York’s leading hotels.

Ideally, the new collaborations create the best of all worlds. The hoteliers attract overnight guests based on their destination restaurants based on the celebrity chef on the marquee and that leads to a dining experience that grows into a potential catering/special event booking.

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In most of these cases, we are finding that the restaurant has the design and purchasing responsibility for front of the house items including tabletop. In many cases, upkeep and renovations are often paid by the restaurateur as well. The restaurateur is typically presented with a new kitchen at the hotel owner’s expense.

The hotel simply markets the restaurant as part of the enhanced guest experience. The hotel has eliminated the operational overhead and receives a portion of the restaurant revenues and gets to change their concept if it does not work out.

Our advice to our H. Weiss/BHS customer base is that you brand your hotel restaurant so that customers know they are different and not part of the hotel. A simple place to start is by cresting the glass with the restaurant’s signature. We also suggest paying close attention to the branding in the hotel for the restaurant including, front desk, in room table tents and even the elevators.

Many of these new hotels/restaurant hybrids include the opportunity for the chef/restaurateur to handle the hotels’ buffet and special events. So for many restaurants who may never have done “off-prem” catering, we suggest investing in serving pieces that fit not only your menu but the hotels’ satellite venues in the property. We suggest investing in tables with built in induction and cooling stations that look more like pieces of furniture than the standard chaffers. We also like the flexibility that systems like Cal-Mil, Bon Chef allow the hotel/restaurant operator.

This year, we also started to see a new trend with a great opportunity for both hotels and restaurant operators. Restaurants and branded chefs are now being offered as an amenity to high-end apartment living in New York City. This new opportunity for the restaurant in the building to provide food service to apartment residents is growing rapidly. Patrons can order dinner on the way home and pick it up ready to eat rather than the required preparation of Blue Apron, it is already cooked- plated and ready to go.

These apartment programs also feature a quick snack or dessert sent on the elevator. Residents love it because it’s like having your own private chef and there’s nothing but a returnable room service table with nothing to clean and good food.

Call for breakfast in the way you like it. The H.Weiss/BHS team has several suggestions for preparing for expansion into this market.

We have a full line of insulated covers on dishes, hot boxes, room service tables, and more disposable items for takeout. We also like the idea of creating a signature with candles and flowers and even the selection of “homier” china. We love some of the new disposable flatware and imprinted napkins. It is also a nicer touch to send soup and sauces in separate containers so dinner is “fresh” when served.

Liz Weiss is the President and co-owner of Armonk, NY based H. Weiss Co. She is known nationally as one of the nation’s foremost authorities on tabletop design. The Michigan State graduate is also actively involved with WPO-Women’s Presidents Organization. Comments may be sent to eweiss@hweiss.net