Who Says Private Clubs Can’t Have Outstanding Dining?

The Army Navy Club
The Army Navy Club

The old line about club food is always the worst compliment we ever hear: “It is pretty good for a club”. But today, our clubs are achieving great success in their dining programs as is evidenced by what is being served, how it is being served, and the rave reviews we are seeing for clubs such as The Army and Navy Club in downtown Washington, D.C.

In a recent membership survey at The Army and Navy Club, we witnessed the highest dining ratings we have ever seen for a private club.

Our goal for any club is to be one of their members’ favorite places to dine; not the gourmet, best restaurant in a city, but just one of 4 or 5 places their members always frequent. This is what we call achieving favorite place status.So, when we asked The Army and Navy Club members should their dining be a favorite place, 96% said, of course it should. But when we asked, is it, we were overjoyed to find 83% of members saying it is. Now to put this in perspective, the average rating for club members saying their dining is a favorite dining place is only 44%. No club, to our knowledge, has achieved such a high favorite place status rating of 86% before.

We have to congratulate General Manager, John Warnack; Executive Chef, Kirk DeLoach; and President, Major General Daniel Wright, US Army (Ret.) on this accomplishment. You have to know achieving such success is much more than just about food quality.

So, if you’re ever meandering about the streets in Washington, walking along Farragut Square, stop by and visit John Warnack to see one of the best clubs in the country. Maybe you can even sample the food. Fortunately, we are seeing more and more clubs achieving great ratings for “Favorite Place” status. 


What achieves members’ favorite place status for clubs today is:

1) Of course, food quality; menu variety; and consistency.

2) Great, friendly service.

3) Attractive interior décor.

4) Many friends/members being there.

5) Convenient location.

6) Good value for cost.

7) A place where everyone knows your name (Cheers).


Read another dining article –  The Dining Survey



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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