Dining Success Equates to Club Success


McMahon Group has been surveying club members for over 36 years, and the most challenging aspect facing managers is dining, and the rooms, outdoor areas, and kitchens which provide it.  Members want a good, consistent dining experience all of the time, not a hit or miss one that is inconsistent. To be clear, our reference to club dining refers to your Club’s a  la carte dining venues; the restaurants in your Club that compete with the public eateries in your community that your members frequent. 


McMahon Group member satisfaction surveys consistently show that 92% of Club members say their Club should be one of their favorite places to dine, yet only 43% say it actually is. Why are clubs failing to deliver wanted dining to the majority of their members? 

A  la carte dining at clubs is a different business model than your club’s special events and banquet dining. The McMahon Group has found that the clubs that struggle with delivering a consistent quality dining experience on a day-to-day basis lack a qualified, experienced professional who knows and understands the nuances of the a  la carte restaurant business. 

Other key departments at clubs, such as golf and fitness, have staff with specialized experience in their departments. A club’s golf department has a Golf Course Superintendent responsible for delivering course conditions to the club’s specifications. Your Club’s Fitness/Wellness department has specialists directing member experiences in Yoga, Pilates, CrossFit, and Nutrition. 


Your club’s dining journey must start with your Board and General Manager agreeing that achieving Favorite Place Status is crucial to the Club’s success. Secondarily, you must understand what your members want in dining by using focus groups and visiting restaurants your members frequent. Finally, your club must add a talented Dining Director who ideally has for-profit restaurant dining experience and understands the nuances that consistently make an everyday dining experience unique and memorable. Clubs that have the greatest success in dining are the most successful clubs overall.


Feel like reading another article on dining, click Here



Share This Article

About Bill McMahon, Sr. AIA, OAA

Bill is a strategic, financial and architectural planning consultant to clubs throughout North America. He established McMahon Group in 1983 as an affiliate of the family architectural firm his grandfather founded in 1906. Over the ensuing years, the firm has expanded its club consulting services beyond clubhouse improvement planning to a full range of services for all aspects of private club challenges. To date, the firm has assisted more than 2,000 private clubs across the United States, Canada, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean. McMahon Group provides a unique approach to developing club facility projects first establishing design and financial feasibility so membership approval is achieved. Thereafter final design and construction firms are selected to build the member approved project.

Mr. McMahon is unique among club consultants in providing an integrated strategic, financial and architectural approach to solving club problems. His personal involvement with his own clubs in St. Louis (serving in the roles of president, board member and committee member) has allowed him to bring unparalleled experience to each client. Mr. McMahon’s club memberships have included Bellerive Country Club (St. Louis), Racquet Club Ladue (St. Louis), University Club of St. Louis, Spring Lake Yacht Club (Michigan) and the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.

Mr. McMahon is a graduate of Washington University School of Architecture in St. Louis and holds architecture licenses in 44 U.S. states and in Ontario, Canada. He is a featured author in industry publications and a featured speaker at the annual conferences of the Club Managers Association of America, the Canadian Society of Club Managers, the National Club Association and the Hospitality, Financial and Technology Professionals. He serves as a visiting lecturer at continuing education sessions offered by regional CMAA chapters and at Michigan State University. Bill is a co-author of McMahon Club Trends®, the comprehensive research reports on strategic issues facing private clubs published with the National Club Association. He is also founder of the Excellence in Club Management Award.

Mr. McMahon is a member of the American Institute of Architects, and the National Club Association. He is a former president of the Missouri Council of Architects, AIA and has served on various charitable boards in the St. Louis area.

More articles by Bill McMahon, Sr. AIA, OAA
Originally published in: