Benjamin Castro, F&B Director and George Atwell, Vice President of Food and Beverage
Your Food and Beverage (F&B) teams have really stepped up to the challenges we encountered over the past five months. We implemented our curbside to go program, meals for two, and in-house grocery program. We even had our beverage to go program with mixed cocktails, wine, and beer.
We would like to take this opportunity to, once again, send a big thank you to all the homeowners in our communities that contributed to the employee fund, which helped our staff that were financially impacted by the service restrictions and shutdowns. These funds truly helped our staff pay bills and purchase necessities for their families.
As we enter the sixth month of our limited service operations, no one wants to get back to our normal daily operations more than the F&B team. However, there is no indication of when this will happen and what it will look like. We are prepared to change with the times, making adjustments as we go.
The biggest question is when will we be allowed to begin catering to large groups and events in our clubhouses and ballrooms again. Currently, because of State mandated regulations on the number of people allowed to gather and congregate, we have no planned events for large groups for the remainder of 2020. If this were to change, it is likely that we will accommodate homeowner groups only for the remainder of the 2020. Unfortunately, the popular buffets and brunch style service will no longer be available due to the changes brought on by COVID-19. Social distancing and limited contact requirements have rendered these self-serve events obsolete for the foreseeable future. All banquet events will be plated events. Many questions still remain regarding how we operate our banquet and service bars in the future. These changes will require additional service staff, thereby increasing costs to produce these events.
As a group, we furloughed and eliminated many staff members due to the lack of business, but have tried to maintain our core group of employees. When the service limitations and restrictions are eventually modified or lifted, we will need to revamp, not only the banquet operations in our locations, but also the restaurant and bar operations. This entails recruiting, hiring, and training many new staff members. These operations will take time to get back up to speed and to the level of service that you have come to expect. We may be unable to handle multiple events in the interim until we are fully staffed. Add to this predicament the fact that many people that were working in the hospitality industry have gained employment in other industries, such as construction, in large fulfillment centers, and in e-commerce. Recruiting will be a challenge for us as all restaurants will be scrambling to reopen and add staff. What was considered the norm in the food and beverage world just six months ago likely will not be seen again until a vaccine is developed.
In closing, we would like to express a sincere “Thank You” to all the homeowners that have continued to patronize our restaurants, and that have been so supportive of your staff member.