From rooftop bars to dining under-the-stars, restaurants are rebounding.
In a recent piece on HuffPost examining the future of restaurants, Hudson Riehle, Senior VP of the Research and Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association, told contributor Garin Pimia: “Looking at 2020, obviously it was the worst year in history for the United States restaurant industry.”
Among frightening figures: Restaurant sales dropped an estimated $240 billion in 2020, a decrease of 19.2% from 2019, and 2 million restaurant workers remain out of work despite moves to reopen the country. While things could improve with the vaccine rollout and warmer weather, Riehle noted, “It’s still a huge abyss to overcome.”
Like independent outlets on the streets and in shopping malls, hotel restaurants and bars have and will continue to see their own share of challenges.
“The first thing is hotel operating costs are going to go up, so hotel food & beverage prices will go up,” Douglas Zeif, Principal of Next Hospitality Advisors in Coconut Creek, Florida, told us, tracing such increases to the necessary costs of personal protective and sanitizing equipment and the diligence of hotel companies on health and safety. “No one wants the liability; they want their guests to leave as healthy as they came in.”
Supply chain issues are likewise problematic, says Zeif, who is also an executive consultant on all things food & beverage for Blackstone Group hotel and resort properties. “With wholesale prices running higher, hotels have no choice but to pass the costs onto their guests.”
Result? Smaller menus, increased focus on execution, and more local, healthy, and plant-based items as hotels shrink their core offerings to what guests are really looking for. Such contractions are significant because, like the broader industry, hotel food & beverage outlets are struggling with staffing issues due to immigration policies and expanded unemployment benefits.
“A lot of people are looking at ways to make the same money without having to work at 4am or late on weekends,” says Zeif. “There’s a resort near where I live that is trying to hire cooks to open a new restaurant in June, but people are turning them down.”
Zeif anticipates more hotels turning to ghost kitchens – that is, restaurants that serve by delivery only – because “what operation is better than a hotel to do a ghost kitchen? They’re completely ready for it”; new technologies to drive costs and revenues and introduce new conveniences for guests; and more focus on bar dining to appeal to, say, business travelers who just want a burger or a piece of fish before heading to their rooms.
“When I develop F&B programming for hotels right now, what I often hear is: ‘We need breakfast and a bar with food, and that’s it.’”
Well, that’s not always it. Late last year Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants released its seventh-annual “Culinary & Cocktail Trend Forecast” for 2021, with Scott Gingerich, the company’s Senior Vice President of Restaurants & Bars anticipating “a new wave of trends to emerge, from the rise of garden goods to a resurgence of health food, as the pandemic continues to shift the way diners eat, cook and imbibe.”
Among the Kimpton’s predictions: “Garden pesto and edible cactus will be the new banana bread” as a result of the home gardening craze; “Ambiance matters more than ever,” as going out is more of a treat than ever; and “Bring on the elaborate cocktails,” because consumers still will treat themselves when they indulge.
We’ll drink to that!
Here are some new food & beverage innovations and openings that clients of Hawkins International and Maverick Creative will be serving guests through the year ahead:
- Intimacy is at the heart of Sushi Suite 202 at Hotel Lincoln, a JdV by Hyatt address in Chicago. Upon arrival, guests are handed a key to the exclusive dining suite allowing them to unlock a 17-course, 60-minute omakase sushi extravaganza in a cozy space with a six-seat sushi bar that is tucked at the back of the suite where the bed used to be. ($125, inclusive of tax and gratuity.)
- Temple Court on 10 is a new culinary experience by award-winning Chef Tom Colicchio and his team on the rooftop terrace of The Beekman, a Thompson Hotel in Manhattan. The enchanting, upscale dining experience features a decadent four-course menu inspired by the best seasonal produce, local meats & sustainable seafood. Sommelier’s wine pairings, a rooftop cocktail collection, and a hand-selected list of softly priced, high-end Champagnes round out the offerings to create a one-of-a-kind dining experience, safely enjoyed above the rest.
- Discover Hawaii’s most authentic luxury Luau at Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort in Hawaii. A beautifully curated cultural and culinary experience called The Feast at Mokapu is set on the property’s iconic grassy lawn and the sandy shore of Mokapu beach, where guests indulge in an `ohana-style meal of 15 locally inspired dishes and handcrafted cocktails. It’s available on Sunday evenings from 5pm-8pm. (Premium Seating $300 for adults and $150 for children; Classic Seating $240 for adults and $120 for children.)
- In London, The Dorchester celebrated its 90th anniversary in mid-April with the launch of its first-ever rooftop restaurant and bar concept. With unobstructed views over Hyde Park and East London, The Dorchester Rooftop celebrates the Dorchester Collection flagship’s unrivaled culinary talent and incredible legacy as a favorite destination for royalty, international jet setters, and VIPs visiting London. The rooftop will showcase a series of culinary pop-ups overseen by Executive Chef Mario Perera through spring and summer with the hotel’s many talented chefs given the opportunity to specially curate menus with a focus on modern British, French, and light Mediterranean cuisine.
- The reopening of Hotel Bel-Air, one of two Dorchester Collection addresses in Southern California, brought a new outdoor dining concept unlike any other in Los Angeles. Bel-Air Under the Stars is a private fireside dinner experience created by Wolfgang Puck’s team, with space for friends and loved ones to cozy up by their own private firepit with a glass (or several!) of wine, toast marshmallows, and enjoy hotel favorites such as truffle fries, crudité from the Santa Monica Farmers Market, smoked salmon pizza, and more. Bel-Air Under the Stars will run Thursday, Friday and Saturday with staggered seating from 5:30pm-8:00pm, and a minimum reservation of 2 guests and a maximum of 6 guests. (Pricing $120 per person; option to upgrade to “Krug Seating” for an extra $30/per person, which gives them a glass of Krug Champagne + Amuse Bouche pairing, an additional value of $60.)
- Park Hyatt Washington in D.C. offers the Tea Cellar, a semi-private alcove ideal for intimate dinners and cocktail parties. The Cellar menu is customizable and represents the best of the season with regional ingredients sourced by the restaurant’s culinary team. Guests will discover more than 30 rare, single-estate teas from remote regions of China, Japan, Sri Lanka, and the Himalayas, served by the freshly brewed pot, available daily. (From $8 to $300.)