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Food and Beverage And The New Normal

Food and Beverage And The New Normal

After a month and a half in quarantine, consumers and businesses are adjusting to a new normal. Many consumers have changed buying habits while businesses have changed course to fit buyer’s needs. Hotels that have remained open with food and beverage outlets have seen opportunities to shift their processes and still service the community and their guests. Hotels and restaurants all over the country have shifted to carry out and delivery systems for their properties. Some are virtually hosting large events like Easter brunch with plans to duplicate Mother’s Day brunch. Today we spotlight The Hermitage Hotel, a Forbes 5 Star and AAA Five Diamond hotel located in Nashville, TN.  The Hermitage Hotel has always been known for tradition and luxury, but they are also known for innovation. Having navigated change for over a century, the hotel and its team, led by Managing Director Dee Patel were not going to let a pandemic stop them from hosting one of their most popular brunches.

What was the process for deciding to do Easter Brunch to-go?

DP: Easter Brunch has been a tradition at The Hermitage Hotel for many decades.  It’s a part of the hotel’s heritage and our efforts to serve the community, so there was no question that we would continue the tradition this year while pivoting with a different format. We developed a game plan, involved all of the right people including our culinary professionals, we put the most efficient ordering and curbside pickup or delivery systems in place and of course with a no-contact approach and social distancing guidelines in place at all times.  Ultimately, we ensured that residents in our community would not have to miss their Easter Brunch tradition with The Hermitage Hotel and in the comfort of their home.  

How many orders did you end up with that day and did it give you a platform for brunches in the future (ie Mother's Day)?

DP: The response was pretty overwhelming and our entire team rallied behind the effort by serving over 400 people on Easter Sunday.  Regardless that it was a cold and rainy day, it’s been a long-standing tradition that a member of our team dresses as the Easter Bunny and this year was no exception.  We had one goal in mind and that was to bring some joy and lightness to the day for adults and kids alike.  It was heartwarming seeing the kids waving to the Easter Bunny from a safe distance in their vehicles and we were ourselves provided some unexpected joy when a Metro bus driver stopped and gave a beautiful serenade of  “My Girl”.  It was a beautiful expression of the Nashville spirit.

As for additional offerings, we have been and will continue to provide a wide array of take-out options including lunch and dinner daily, complete nightly family meals including the popular Surf & Turf menu on Saturdays, a complete weekend brunch collection which requires some quick reheating at home and includes all the accompaniments, and finally craft cocktails, wines and beers for pick-up.  For Mother’s Day, we have a wonderful menu for no-contact curbside takeout or home delivery for Mom’s big day.  We’ve made plans as stress-free as possible with the ability to choose options such as cookie decorating kits, floral bouquets, pies and cakes and even cocktails such as a Bellini and Bloody Mary Kits, wines and classic Sunday drinks.

Are you considering to-go options for all future brunches, even after the Safer at Home order has lifted and guests have returned to the property?

DP: While we will undoubtedly plan to offer memorable experiences for future holidays, things are truly evolving with what we offer and how we offer it.  Based on the success we’ve seen with Easter and expect the same if not more with Mother’s Day, it’s clear that customers are happy to share our culinary delights in the comfort of their homes and we will continue offering to-go options for the foreseeable future.

How, if at all, do you feel this has changed the landscape of Hotel F&B?

DP: There’s no doubt that the landscape has changed, not just for Hotel F&B but for hospitality overall.  It’s clear that we’re looking towards the “new normal”, and what that is and how it will affect hotel offerings is evolving.  The Hermitage Hotel has always been the gold standard for luxury, service and cleanliness and what’s most important is that we instill the highest level of trust and confidence in how we conduct business.  It’s entirely plausible to expect large gatherings to be replaced by more intimate events or at-home experiences, which will inevitably lead to a changed landscape for dining and events in the hotel and hospitality environment.  

The Hermitage Hotel is known for generous community engagement, have you been able to work with the community during this time?

DP: Regardless of the situation – both during good as well as challenging times - community support and servitude is simply a part of who we are and what we stand for.  For many years we’ve given our time, we’ve supported numerous community organizations and we’ve partnered with many non-profits for the greater good.  Even before the tornadoes struck in early March, and the pandemic quickly followed, we’ve been serving thousands of meals to our residents in need, to our first responders and organizations dedicated to helping in any way they can.  We have recently formed a partnership with Second Harvest to continue our mission of service and servitude and look forward to helping many more in the days, weeks, months and years to come.  It’s part of who we are as a Nashville institution and it’s inherently part of our belief system and values as a company and as a team. 

As with any major event there is change. Whether that change is to us as individuals or to our culture, transformation is inevitable. As cities and towns all over the country begin to relax restrictions and we start to come out of quarantine, the way hotels and restaurants have operated over time has changed. The Hermitage Hotel is one example of how the industry has shifted its practices and what the future of Food and Beverage could look like.

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