Executive Search: Director of Food and Beverage for Medinah Country Club

                   

Director of Food and Beverage
Medinah Country Club
Chicago, IL

The Club

Located 25 miles west of Chicago in a suburb bearing its name, Medinah Country Club (Medinah) is home to three world-class golf courses, and a robust community of health and wellness, casual dining, and engaging social activities.

Members and their guests have a plethora of amenities and activities from which to choose. Golf is available on three world-class golf courses. Players of all ages can improve their games at the Golf Learning Center and practice on the putting greens or at the short game area. Tennis afficionados enjoy racquet sports all year-round on four Har-Tru clay courts in fair weather and four platform tennis courts during the winter. The pool complex features areas for the young and young at heart along with a full snack bar. Members and guests also head to the Cabana Bar area to cool off with a cold drink in the summer heat. And Juniors are kept busy year-round with programs for golf, tennis, swim and dive.

When it comes to enjoying a meal at Medinah, members have their choice of six dining areas to enjoy healthy farm-to-table meals featuring produce grown on property. In the organic garden—tucked away just inside the club’s main gate—over 25 beds have been planted fruits, vegetables, herbs, garnishes and edible flowers. The Club also has its own bee colony to pollinate the garden and provide fresh honey.

Besides providing food for Medinah’s members, the gardens, coops, and other all-natural sources are part of a concerted effort to create a homey, nurturing, comforting, and intimate community.

Another unique eating experience at Medinah is provided by its own food truck serving smoothies, handmade burgers, seasonal street foods and grab-and-go snacks at key stops on the golf courses and at events throughout the year.

For nearly 100 years, Medinah Country Club has served as a consummate host of major tournaments and a private club providing incomparable golf and a legacy of families coming together through the generations to enjoy a lifestyle unlike any other.

Overview

  • Members – 1,100
  • Initiation Fee – $100,000
  • Annual Dues – $13,248; Capital Dues- $2,424
  • Gross Volume – $25MM
  • Annual Dues – $10MM
  • F&B Volume – $6.8MM
  • Gross Payroll – $11.4MM
  • Employees – 430 for entire Club
  • Board Members – 13
  • Average age of members – 56

Mission

Medinah Country Club has, since 1924, enjoyed a vast and rich history. Medinah Country Club is truly a special place, and its staff is the cornerstone of its organization. Medinah employs people who are genuinely passionate about hospitality and approach customer service with the purest of attitudes. It is their commitment to excellence that provides an unparalleled experience for members and honored guests each and every day, and it looks forward to building upon this foundation.

The Position

Director of Food and Beverage 

The Director of Food & Beverage is ultimately responsible for Clubhouse Food and Beverage Service operations, to include member dining and banquet operations as well as other additional ancillary F&B operations. The Director is the public face of these operations and as such, must exhibit a hands-on approach and understanding that full on-the-floor member and staff engagement is critical to success in this position. The Director consistently provides superb dining and other food and beverage experiences for the Medinah members and guests. A positive and supportive relationship with the Culinary, Catering and Banquet Service teams is very important to this position to ensure a collaborative and harmonious working environment between front and back of house operations.

The Director of Food & Beverage reports to the Assistant General Manager and works alongside the Executive Chef. He/she will also prepare annual department budgets in concert with the General Manager and CFO.

Personnel reporting directly to the Director of Food & Beverage include:

  • Food & Beverage Manager(s)
  • Banquet Manager and Captains
  • Beverage Manager
  • Caterings Managers(s)
  • Executive Chef
  • Lodge & Stands Manager
  • All FOH F&B Staff – servers, bartenders, food runners etc.

Duties and Responsibilities 

  • Daily operational oversight of member dining for Oasis and Fireside restaurants, the club bars, (Casbah, Mecca, Golfers Bar) and halfway houses. Daily oversight also includes the F&B service at The Lodge, Racquet Center and Golf Learning Center, as well as Banquet Service Operations.
  • Serve as the primary coordinator of the aforementioned areas for budgeting, hiring, training, orientations, associate supervision and team culture to ensure all is done in accordance with approved Club policies and is compliant with governmental regulations.
  • Develop and monitor the required operational budgets and procedures to provide direction and controls for food and beverage operations and costs; implement corrective procedures as necessary to help ensure that budget goals are attained.
    Have a strong, highly visible and respectful presence with the membership; be an exceptional communicator with strong interpersonal skills and the maturity to instinctively know how to treat members and guests with a high-level of service. The F&B Director must be able to communicate these expectations to a staff with diverse backgrounds and motivate them positively to understand and execute to those expectations.
  • Establish and maintain standard operating procedures and processes for all dining areas.
  • Oversee all dining areas to ensure a smooth and consistent experience, common within all operations, that delivers high levels of member and guest satisfaction, quality food products and exemplary service.
  • Develop and implement marketing programs to increase dining rooms, bars, banquet, and club event participation in F&B related activities.
  • Hold weekly staff meetings with direct reports to communicate necessary and relevant activities and expectations at the Club. Assist in planning and be responsible for ensuring special club events are well-conceived and executed.
  • Oversee all banquets and social functions, including member and club events as well as events sponsored by members.
  • Be responsive to members and strive to find creative ways to accommodate reasonable requests.
  • Clearly understand the metrics for successful attainment of financial goals and objectives in F&B operations, and consistently review these expectations with the direct reports to ensure understanding and buy-in from those contributing to their attainment.
  • Have a strong sense of urgency and responsiveness, while also maintaining the quality and integrity of each department.
  • Ensure adherence to, and compliance with, all health, safety, liquor consumption, and all other food and beverage regulations. Keep current on all matters pertaining to the food and beverage industry.
  • Consistently monitor payroll and labor resource allocations to ensure they are in line with financial forecasting and goals.
  • Be an active and dynamic recruiter of team members and someone who inherently enjoys developing and building his/her team and leading them to significant, positive membership satisfaction outcomes.
  • Be a collaborative team player who is willing to be hands on when necessary but understands when to step back and lead the team.
  • Involve associates in the decision-making process of how work gets done and create a work environment people want to come to, and participate in, every day.
  • Have a passion and aptitude for teaching, training, and developing educational programs for all food service personnel, working as necessary with the managers directly responsible for those operations.
  • Be a focused and consistent evaluator of personnel, ensuring that standards of conduct and delivery are met; this includes oversight of high standards of appearance, hospitality, service, and cleanliness of the clubhouse facilities.
  • Establish and consistently enhance operating standards for personnel in areas of responsibility and regularly evaluate knowledge, understanding and execution to these high standards.
  • Conduct and/or oversee training programs for food service personnel on various issues including service techniques, knowledge of menu items and daily specials, sanitation, team building and conflict resolution; regularly test and evaluate knowledge and understanding of these expectations.
  • Ensure staff participation in an effective orientation and onboarding program for all areas of responsibility, along with consistent professional development and training.
  • Work closely with Executive Chef, to facilitate a strong relationship between both front- and back-of-the-house departments.
  • Ensure that associates clearly understand performance expectations and that assigned tasks are reasonable, well-conceived and appropriately conveyed. Provide resources necessary to allow employees to perform their jobs effectively and create an exceptional ambience for members and guests.
  • Conduct annual performance reviews in accordance with club policy and expectations.
  • Establish and uphold expectations for dress, decorum and other service standards and consistently monitor for adherence.
  • Take personal ownership of the areas of responsibility, with special attention to the physical plant and overall appearance of the operation and understand the need to be consistently member-ready in both appearance and service.
  • Ensure the Assistant General Manager is kept informed of all issues that affect members, guests, and staff.
  • Support the Assistant General Manager by leading F&B initiatives as well as future development projects and providing operational expectations, guidance, and leadership.
  • Perform other duties as designated by the Assistant General Manager and senior management.

Qualifications/Requirements

  • Must have the ability to promote the clubs F&B services and facilities; a practical knowledge of food, beverage, service costs, preparation and pricing is important.
  • Possess knowledge of social customs and etiquette is essential; imagination and initiative are great assets.
  • Be detail-oriented with a strong ability to multi-task and work under deadlines.
  • Be comfortable working with all types of personalities in a diplomatic and pleasant manner.
  • Position best suited for candidate with a degree from a hotel or restaurant training school/college and 10-15 years progressive experience in Food & Beverage Management within private club or hotels.
  • Multi-unit restaurant experience is a prerequisite.
  • Possess strong computer and related technology skills.
  • Must be able to sit or stand for long periods of time and lift up to 35 pounds.
  • Must have a professional presence, business dress attire, and strong interpersonal skills.

Candidate Qualifications

  • Minimum 5 years of progressive leadership and management experience in hotel, resort, private club or hospitality environment.
  • Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited college or university, preferably in Hospitality Management or Business preferred.
  • Certified Club Manager (CCM) or in active pursuit of designation preferred.

Note: A pre-employment background check will be required. The position is available immediately.

Salary & Benefits

Salary is open and commensurate with qualifications and experience. The Club offers an excellent bonus and benefit package.

Inquiries

IMPORTANT: Interested candidates should submit résumés along with a detailed cover letter which addresses the qualifications and describes your alignment/experience with the prescribed position by Friday, September 16, 2022.

These documents must be saved and emailed in Word or PDF format (save as “Last Name, First Name, Medinah DF&B Cover Letter” and “Last Name, First Name, Medinah DF&B Résumé”) respectively to: execsearchus@ggapartners.com.

All requested information, along with references, should be emailed to the address above.

Lead Search Executive

Patrick DeLozier
Partner
GGA Partners™
(843) 707-5210
patrick.delozier@ggapartners.com 

For more information about Medinah Country Club, please visit www.medinahcc.org.

 

Sample Coronavirus Planning Framework

This week GGA Partners continues its series of communications to help leaders of private clubs address challenges confronting their businesses and their employees with three perspectives from the front lines of club management.

Today: Robert Sereci, GM/COO, Medinah Country Club, Medinah, Illinois.

A Comprehensive Project Plan for Responding to Rapidly Changing Circumstances Focuses Efforts and Assigns Responsibility

You can’t predict a crisis, but you can – and should – plan for one.

Having a plan for how to respond in times of crisis is essential to ensuring that all critical action elements are addressed. Equally important, a comprehensive plan helps your leadership team understand their individual responsibilities and the actions for which they will be held accountable. In addition, a timeline sets out clear deadlines and helps track progress toward your goals.

We developed a comprehensive COVID-19 project plan for our leadership group at Medinah and with the help of GGA Partners (with whom we recently collaborated on a strategic planning project), loaded the plan into the Smartsheet software tool to assign tasks, track project progress, manage calendars, and share documents. Below is the template we developed, which we’re happy to share with fellow club leaders.

To see a clean templated version that readers are free to use as a starting point, click here. Users can also download the corresponding Excel export that is editable and able to be imported directly to their instance of Smartsheet (click here to download).

From the planning template, we wrote a summary of the four key elements of the plan. In total, we viewed the actions under each section as a non-negotiable checklist for our leadership team.

Communication

  1. Assemble a COVID communication/response team – Should include members of the management team and the board.
  2. Member Communication – Focus on awareness, early measures and key dates, including club closure, locker and club storage pick up, etc.
  3. Staff Communication – Determine potential payroll taxes relief and other payroll aid tools available and seek legal advice. Identify the work-from-home capabilities and obstacles for team members.
  4. Board Communications – Brief the board and seek approval on immediate priority policy changes required.
  5. Committee Communication – Work with committee chairs to reschedule future meetings and determine conference call solutions.
  6. Other Stakeholder Communication – Plan for reaching out to vendors, prospective members, group reservations and other relevant stakeholders.

Operations

  1. Member Offerings/Venues – Separate into short-term versus long-term. Key checklist items include F&B menu/offering, vendor relationships, golf course opening plan and member access to pick up property.
  2. Cleaning Action Steps – Update the cleaning checklist with added preventative measures and assign personnel.
  3. Facilities – Define the future usage of each core facility at the Club (clubhouse, pro shop, F&B, admin offices) and any policy or function changes required.
  4. Other Operations – Define the operational plan for other areas of the business, including turf maintenance/engineering facilities, prospective member programs and non-member business- related income such as existing bookings for banquets and tournaments.
  5. Staff policy/scheduling and pay scenarios – short-term and long-term policy, and expected costs for salaries of full-time, part-time and seasonal employees (full shutdown vs. partial shutdown).

Financial Impact Planning

  1. Scenario Planning – Identify the most likely shutdown scenarios and model assumptions that have the greatest impact on the financial model (i.e. change in dues, wages, etc.).
  2. Preserving Cash Plan – Review all capital projects, loan schedules, outside revenue contracts to identify ways to conserve cash. Adjust assumptions for new member forecasts and resignation forecasts.
  3. Cost Cutting Plan – Based on the new assumptions for revenue and cash, determine the most prudent areas for cut-backs to payroll, operating expenses, contracts, events, etc.
  4. Revenue Generation Plan – Identify any new offerings the club can provide to support revenue generation, such as meal replacement, to-go orders, limited golf, event catering, etc.

Contingency Plans

  1. Determine a plan for shelter in place – Determine the trigger that would lead to no staff or members on property (i.e. order from city officials) and the time-sensitive steps to be taken in that event.
  2. Determine trigger and plan to close club completely – How does the plan change if shelter in place orders are extended or if a member or employee is diagnosed with the virus?
  3. Determine trigger and plan to reopen club completely – Leadership team develops a back-to- work protocol and a ramp-up plan.
  4. Club Events/Golf Tournament Status – Determine how each scenario above affects the status of scheduled club events that have not been postponed.

A note about Smartsheet: there are several different project planning tools out there, but I am quite fond of Smartsheet (www.smartsheet.com). I use the software extensively for project planning and highly recommend it. From a strategic planning perspective, it has been a great tool for us to keep track of progress on our strategic action plan and to keep our leadership group aligned on performance against our goals.

Because sometimes we just need to laugh …

Bringing Innovation and Creativity to Events (Case Study)

However big or small the event, there’s always reason to inject creativity and innovation to make it memorable for all involved. This is an approach Medinah Country Club has pioneered for over 95 years. So, what are they doing, and what can you learn? We turned to General Manager and Chief Operating Officer, Robert Sereci, for the answers.

In what ways have you brought innovation and creativity to the events you have hosted?

While we have brought innovation to many events, at Medinah Country Club we view innovation as a strategic advantage that we leverage across all facets of club operations. From food and beverage to technology, innovation plays a critical role in our success.

Despite our significant recent investments in amenities, we realize that, ultimately, these amenities are only vehicles to facilitate relationships and strengthen our community.

Our approach to events focuses on larger, traditional club events like Easter, Mother’s Day and Halloween, while consistently developing smaller events, focused on appealing to a targeted demographic who share similar interests and passions.

We also work around the seasons. Many are surprised that a golf-centric club like Medinah hosts events around ice skating, sledding, and cross-country skiing in the winter months. But this keeps members engaged, mixing with other members and makes the club more a part of their everyday lives. We even host roller skating, where we convert our ballroom into a roller rink!

Family involvement is also key, and offers an opportunity for us to be creative. For instance, we invite families to join our executive chef for an educational experience as he taps our trees for maple syrup, to learn about egg production from our farm hens, and to learn how honey is harvested from our three bee colonies, all on our club property.

We also sprinkle in ingredients which are true to Medinah, and showcase the best of what we have to offer. Our Medinah Food Truck regularly roves around the property serving parties, and we use our portable wood burning oven or smoker to supplement indoor and outdoor club events.

Who drives this commitment to innovation, and why is it so integral at Medinah?

In our case, my team and I drive this commitment. I suspect this is not that different for most other clubs. Club Boards genuinely demand innovation from their management team, yet they embrace and find comfort in conformity. Clubs are notorious for conforming with the majority and have learned to embrace the status quo in order to align with the opinions and behaviors of neighboring clubs. This pressure to conform can have a significant negative impact on management’s engagement, creativity, and ability to innovate, and ultimately the club suffers.

Innovation is not important for innovation sake. As more clubs expand their offerings and amenities become ubiquitous, we, as clubs, must shift our focus from building structures to building memories. Like the corporate world outside our gates, we have migrated into an “experience economy,” where our members place greater importance on experience. Fitness centers, spas, and racquet courts are now the norm and very few members get impressed by these shiny new toys. Today’s members are looking for, and paying for, memorable unique experiences. These unique experiences are what makes successful clubs stand out in the eyes of the current and prospective membership.

How do you capture new, creative ideas AND make them happen?

Capturing ideas is the easy part – getting buy-in and execution is the hard part.

There is no shortage of ideas. My team and I look not only to our peers for ideas, but more importantly, we look at what others outside of our industry are doing and determine if and how it is applicable to us. The truth is, many of our innovative ideas at Medinah may be innovative for the club space, but in reality, they are almost common practice in the public space. Clubs are too quick to dismiss ideas from other segments by thinking “that would never work here.” While that may sometimes be true, we seek out those principles or ideas that would work and determine what we would need to do in order for those ideas to be successful at Medinah.

What’s your best example of bringing innovation to a high-profile event? What made it successful?

While many clubs go out of their way to squash nonconformity, at Medinah, we encourage it. I genuinely promote constructive nonconformity. That type of thinking is how we introduced the Tiny House Hospitality Package during the recent BMW Championship hosted at Medinah. The goals were twofold:

How can we create a unique memorable spectator experience and capture additional hospitality at a mid-range price point? The answer – place several Tiny Homes at specific locations on the golf course.

This was the pitch – Ever dream of watching a professional golf tournament from your backyard? Now you can. Introducing the Tiny House Hospitality Package for the 2019 BMW Championship. Invite your friends and colleagues to watch the top 70 players tee off just feet from your fenced backyard. In addition to witnessing the tournament up close, you will have access to a tiny house with all the accommodations of a home.

Not only was this the first time a Tiny House has been used in this way, but also the first time a Tiny House has been featured on a course during a professional tournament. This was a massive success and will likely now be a standard hospitality offering for future tournaments. The positive press we received was truly remarkable.

What else can other clubs learn from Medinah, whether they are staging high-profile events or member events?

In order to foster innovation, you must have a culture that not only encourages those who are innovative, but, more importantly, doesn’t penalize those who fail. Too many clubs focus on the ideas and innovation, and not enough on developing a culture of trust, where innovation and creativity is celebrated.

As the COO at Medinah, I have worked tirelessly to strengthen the trust between myself and the board. The board has provided me with a large safety net. In return, I have provided my team with an even larger safety net, allowing them to take risks and challenge the status quo. There are very few mistakes my team can make that I cannot get them out of.

Clubs must become comfortable with the unknown. If you want to accomplish something unique and memorable, you must be willing to take on risk. In general, clubs are culturally rigid and, as a result, are very risk averse. Club boards and members have a very low tolerance for failure and so club managers take fewer risks, thus, innovation comes to a standstill. Arguably, clubs with greater recognition and resources can afford to take more risk, but I believe the exact opposite to be true. When a small, unrecognizable club fails, the city may be aware; however, when a club with a global brand fails, the whole world will know.

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