When the Foodbuy team sat down to look at which private clubs to include in the 2024 edition of the Golf and Leisure Club Guide, The Arbutus Club was one of the first that came to mind.

The Arbutus Club, located in Vancouver, BC has been in existence since 1964. It offers an extensive array of services and has earned a reputation as being one of Canada’s premier private clubs. Foodbuy spoke to the newly appointed CEO, Larry Ho to get his view on how 2024 is shaping up.

Larry worked his way up through the ranks at casino resorts, first in Las Vegas and then in Canada. After meeting his wife here, they decided to make Canada their home. Larry moved into managing the Jericho Tennis Club for seven years before his move to The Arbutus Club.

Arbutus Club

The Arbutus Club retains over 400 team members (employees & contractors) who service the needs of their 8,600 members. The Club generates $25 million in revenue with $7.9 million from food and beverage alone.

When asked about the labour challenges his club faced, Mr. Ho responded, “We have a solid group of team members here. Some with over 25 years of experience at the Arbutus Club. The challenge, like many other operations, is attracting and maintaining staff at the entry level positions”.

Coincidently, we caught Larry coming off his first team-building session and the excitement was boiling over about the opportunities ahead. Larry outlined his approach with the team, “Our programs and food and beverage operations are strong, so my goal is not to mess with the foundation, but the challenge is… how do we elevate, innovate, and celebrate ‘Great’? How can we focus on and enhance the overall member experience? Every team member plays a role in helping us be the best we can be. We just can’t sit on our laurels, it’s about continuous improvements.”

We asked Larry about his view on the challenges surrounding food and beverage costing. “We have a strong catering department that helps us keep costs down for our overall F&B department. Like most member-funded clubs, The F&B department runs as a cost center, as the members expect good quality and service at a fair price. We don’t want to hike the F&B prices way up like the ‘for profit’ restaurants. When you combine the membership fees of a private club and the catering area, we feel we have a good balance of cost to value for the products we offer.”

Foodbuy certainly helps The Arbutus Club and thousands of other Members to reduce costs on the food and beverage side of the business along with an extensive portfolio of non-food and Professional Services support, that adds value to Member operations. The Foodbuy program is flexible and leaves room for the inclusion of niche products as required by Members.

One of the issues facing The Arbutus Club is capacity. Mr. Ho thinks that balancing events and catering with the needs of the membership will be key going forward. “We have a generational thing happening here. The kids of the founding members are having kids and we are seeing growth from within the club. We are now looking at a long-range plan to increase our footprint to help us meet that demand. So, membership is somewhat capped for now in the sense that we are not accepting external applicants. However, the next evolution of this Club will be not to mess with the foundation that John Furlong and Brent Elkington created alongside the past Board of Directors and team members, but expand to ensure we maintain the right member experience.”

So, when we asked how Larry feels The Arbutus Club is positioned for 2024, with a sheepish grin he said, “It’s two thumbs up!”


This is an excerpt from the Foodbuy 2024 Golf Club and Leisure Guide. To read the guide, click here.

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