You need a plan of action now for your food and beverage operation

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick May 12, 2020 08:25

Food and beverage expert Steven Brown answers questions about one of the hardest hit areas in the pandemic: golf clubs’ bars and restaurants.

Will F&B operations pick up at the levels they left off at prior to the Covid-19 outbreak?

I would be absolutely amazed if that were the case. Whilst there may be initial euphoria at being ‘released’ from their confinement, your customer base will need to be reassured that social interaction will not in any way endanger their health, and that level of confidence building will take time, so don’t be discouraged following that initial rush if things then take time to settle down again to more normal trading patterns.

Should we bring back all our furloughed staff?

I can foresee that some redundancies will be inevitable, but perhaps the most vulnerable staff members will be the part-time and seasonal staff. In this instance then the full-time employees will need to fill the gap until such times as ‘normal’ service is resumed.

When our bar and restaurant finally reopen, will suppliers be able to supply at the normal rate or will there be stock shortages?

Be prepared for that to happen. Once the government has given us the green light, there will inevitably be a torrent of requests to suppliers for food and drink stocks but even they may not have them. The additional problem that clubs face in that scenario is that the range of goods that you will have available to you may well be limited, which may well mean much reduced bar and catering menus until matters settle down.

For those clubs that rely on local produce for their ‘home-made’ ranges, then again there will be shortages in providing you with these most basic necessities and in the quantities needed. If that is the case, then they may have to resort to the services of national pre-packed supplies from such companies as Bidvest and Brakes, (who will of course service their regular clients before any newcomers) thus changing the home-made offering.

How different will our F&B operation need to be post coronavirus? Should we reduce prices to incentivise customers?

Without a shadow of a doubt you will have to clearly signal your intention to re-open the F&B service, possibly with an ‘opening party’ or even a limited reduced-price offer.

You should now be looking at your websites and all social media communications in readiness for the big re-launch to help make the maximum impact.

Will our suppliers increase their wholesale prices?

There is every probability that prices will be increased due to scarcity of products in some quarters. If that is the case, will you be increasing your retail prices to cover these increased costs or can you afford to absorb them, and if so, for how long?

What do we do if customers are too reluctant to eat in our restaurant?

If your customer base is reluctant to visit you in the clubhouse, then you might consider a takeout option to help fill the financial void or a food service out on the course.

Will the existing trading models such as in-house or franchised continue in the same way?

I forecast a lot of changes here leading to a variety of difficult situations.

Several clubs with small catering operations (and bars) will, with falling income and profits, seriously consider closing the operation down temporarily or permanently or even passing it on to an external contractor.

Conversely, many external contractors may well not return to work due to lack of income, leaving the club to make alternative arrangements of finding another franchisee or even of taking the service in-house, a trading model for which many clubs may well be ill-prepared.

Either way the situation calls for a clear exit plan to be in place in case of either of these eventualities. Setting up your own in-house operation is a major undertaking and requires a great deal of planning and organisation in every area of its operation so please be very careful and work to minimise the risk factors.

Will local environment health officers be changing their inspections?

I have no doubt that they will make their presence felt in local communities to help restore confidence in the market, so anything you can do to achieve a 5-star rating and then display that certificate for all to see, will be welcome news. No excuse now for not stripping down and sanitising your kitchen and dining area in readiness for the big day. Don’t forget to get hold of a plentiful supply of well-placed hand sanitisers.

You must be prepared to think differently about how your F&B operation will look and function so now is the time to sit down and consider what actions to take ahead of the lifting of the lockdown restrictions.

You need a management action plan of how you intend to respond to the inevitable challenges that your F&B operation will face. Don’t be daunted by the challenges you face because, with a sustainable plan in place, you will come out of this as a stronger business and ready to deal with the shape of things to come. But doing nothing is not an option.

Tel: 07785 276320 or 01604 843163. Email:


Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick May 12, 2020 08:25
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1 Comment

  1. Tim L May 15, 09:58

    The master himself …

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