Understanding the value of enjoying a memorable meal on the premises, Cleveland Country Club in Shelby, N.C., has upped its member satisfaction quota with an expanded casual-dining area. Part of a larger club-wide renovation, the project began last April and opened in August 2020, helping to elevate the member dining experience.
“Our renovated outdoor space has proven to be incredibly valuable. Many of our members are only comfortable dining outside, and we have plenty of space for social distancing. We have even been able to do some small social programs outside, overlooking the golf course.” —Allyson Kahl Darling, General Manager, Cleveland Country Club in Shelby, N.C.
“Food and beverage is not only important to the sense of community at the club, it is integral in the sale of new memberships and the retention of current membership,” says General Manager Allyson Kahl Darling. “Not everyone plays golf, not everyone plays tennis, not everyone swims. Everyone likes to eat, drink and have a good time.”
Cleveland CC’s centrally located casual-dining facility, including a spacious outdoor deck, looks out onto the golf and tennis courts (the previous design featured small windows and thick vinyl railing that obstructed the view). Darling describes the new style as one that “combines Southern tradition and local culture, with a creative nod to modernity.”
A curved bar offers a place to enjoy a cocktail while taking in a sporting event on one of the six flat-screen televisions. Patrons have the option of dining at curved banquettes with built-in seating, lounge chairs and deep-seated sofas. Rich blues, along with leather and tweed fabric furnishings, are set against warm stained woods and a metal pressed-tin ceiling, creating an atmosphere that is relaxed, yet sophisticated.
Spilling into the outside is a partially covered dining area, complete with fireside tables and café lights. Darling credits the purposeful design choices for creating a seamless transition as diners to move from one area to the next. “It has been fun to watch the different groups spend the afternoon side by side,” she notes.
And for the staff, ingress and egress to the kitchen is more efficient, thanks to newly installed doors that allow servers and cooks to move about freely. Multiple work stations have been added to the bar area, while wine shelving that had been previously relegated to other areas of the club is more accessible and visible.
At the time the redesigned casual-dining space opened to members, the club was forced to contend with the fallout of the pandemic. “We saw the obvious decline in revenue immediately, with the restrictions on group business and the shutdown of all indoor dining,” recalls Darling. “It was important for us to continue to provide our members with some sort of food-and-beverage amenity.”
With a newly reorganized kitchen that fostered greater functionality, Cleveland CC’s Executive Chef, Zach Anderson, was able to execute a takeout menu. And even when the club reopened its indoor dining in late August to 50 percent capacity, curbside service was still maintained.
The advantage of having a well-designed outdoor dining facility is not lost on Darling and her staff. “Our renovated outdoor space has proven to be incredibly valuable,” she observes. “Many of our members are only comfortable dining outside, and we have plenty of space for social distancing. We have even been able to do some small social programs outside, overlooking the golf course.”
Such enthusiastic response from membership has carried the club into the present, where dining fills to 50 percent capacity at a rapid clip. While use of new community tables has been put on hold, and only 11 of the 22 bar stools are available for pre-dinner or post-golf drinks, Darling and her staff are hopeful that members will soon be able to embrace all of the latest design enhancements the way they were intended.
“I am looking forward to social programming in our new space—live music, dancing and seeing our members enjoy what they worked so hard for,” she enthuses.
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