New Trends in Club Dining: When is Old New Again?

The Royal Treatment

Early man, 350,000 years ago, discovered that meat cooked over a fire and eaten while hot was far more enjoyable than meat eaten cold and raw: so began the evolution of the art and enjoyment of dining.

The true beginning of the renaissance of the art in dining is attributed to King Henry II of France (mid-16th century). He was lucky enough to marry Catherine de’ Medici, the great-granddaughter of Lorenzo the Magnificent of Italy. Lorenzo was the patriarch of the cultural renaissance in Europe. From Italy to France, Catherine brought the refinements of sauces, breads and pasta as we know them today. She also brought etiquette surrounding the dining table and the novel invention of ice cream. One hundred years later, King Louis XIV of France finished building Versailles and was responsible for formalizing the organizational structure of the palace’s kitchen. He assigned titles, rank, and acclaim to the various positions of responsibility that produced the various cuisines the Royal Court enjoyed daily.

Today, the environments and ambiances our members seek to enjoy a good meal and leisure time may look different from the days of old.

At some clubs, the ritual of today’s attire may be relaxed, or in some dining venues at other clubs than from the traditions of yesteryear. Regardless, the basic rules about what constitutes a great dining experience haven’t changed for a long, long time.

King Henry II, Catherine de’ Medici and King Louis XIV all enjoyed these consistent and reliable experiences 500 to 600 years ago. If your members, today, leave their club after a dining experience feeling anything less than the King and Queen of their Club Castle, they have been underserved and you are missing a big opportunity. The basics of great food, great service and an overall great experience today, are the same as long, long ago.

The Royal Treatment

  • Are your members always welcomed and greeted by name, and seated promptly at a comfortable, accommodating table of their choice?
  • Are your employees aptly in charge of your members’ dining experiences? Are they appropriately trained and fully aware of all the accoutrements that accompany achieving a successful professional dining outcome?
  • Is your hot food served hot, cold food delivered cold and is fresh, really fresh, consistently?
  • Does all food prepared consistently pass the test of deliciousness?
  • Is the dining service experience consistently timely and accurate?
  • Are members’ special requests easily and eagerly accommodated?
  • Are all member a la carte dining experiences consistently reliable, to the degree that members are excited to bring their special friends and business associates to the club on a regular basis?

The McMahon Process

McMahon Group has a strategic, systematic and multi-dimensional process to help you evaluate, formulate, implement and deliver a consistent, reliable and high-quality a la carte dining experience, making your club one of your members’ favorite places to dine. If you feel you are delivering anything less than a great dining experience for your members, please click here to e-mail Alison Duffy.

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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