Foodbuy and The Fifteen group empower hotels to leverage their food & beverage programs

Foodbuy is excited to announce a new strategic partnership with The Fifteen group, one of North America’s leading hospitality consulting companies. The Fifteen group specializes in helping restaurants and hotels successfully launch and operate more profitably.

Since 2001, the company has worked with over 1,000 hospitality operations of all shapes and sizes, providing services from menu design and engineering to profit modeling, operational optimization, branding, marketing, and fiscal accountability metrics.

We sat down with David Hopkins, president of The Fifteen group, to gather his insights on what he sees as branding opportunities for many hotels. “The number of subpar hotel food and beverage programs always surprises me,” says David. “I was in Cincinnati not long ago, and the restaurant at the hotel I was staying at was extremely disappointing.

It had no character, no concept, no branding, and a substandard menu. Not surprisingly, I was pretty much the only one in the restaurant. “In contrast, I was staying at a hotel in Nashville the night before. They knocked their food and beverage offering out of the park. Everything was on point, and all the staff were fully trained. The brand and concept were clearly thought out, not only in execution but also in the brand experience. Naturally, their restaurant and bar were packed with both guests staying at the hotel as well as local patrons.

“Hotels spend tremendous amounts of money on building a lounge, bar, outdoor patios and restaurant
spaces, yet they completely miss out on their potential because of poor execution. “Why is this? I think it must be because ‘food and beverage’ is not most hotels’ ‘core business’ — it’s more of an afterthought with little effort put into it. But we feel that is a mistake.”

David summed up his opinion on hotel spaces by adding that regardless of whether you want to make money off this significant investment, the food and beverage space in your hotel represents your overall brand; a bad experience is a poor reflection on your hotel and the its brand.

Just as important, once you are paying the operational costs of a food and beverage space, approximately 50-60% of all incremental revenues go straight to the  bottom line. That means if a restaurant or bar space does $3.5 million in sales vs. $1.5 million, that is an additional $1 million+ to the bottom line every year. In today’s hospitality landscape, that profit is critical.

When asked what the secret sauce is to make this type of transformation, David was earnest with his answer. “First off, you need to treat this like a real business opportunity, a separate food and beverage concept that will generate $3 to $6 million (or even more) in revenue. It can’t just be thrown together. You can’t just hire a chef to develop a menu, buy some plates and glasses, hire some staff, print some menus, and expect to succeed.

“More importantly, you need more than just an interior designer to develop the concept. Interior designers are not restaurant concept developers. Don’t get me wrong — they are great at what they do, but developing an awesome food and beverage concept is not what they are good at.

“Successful, properly developed concepts involve careful planning, coordination of the restaurant operation (brand, concept, menu, bar program, staffing, service style, training, design, etc.) and a clear vision of how all those pieces will work together to make a profitable financial model.

“You get what you pay for. Going the extra mile to execute a restaurant thoughtfully and strategically in your hotel space will pay off in spades. “We put our money where our mouth is. We believe that a well-run restaurant and brand should be able to make 15% profit, so much so that our whole company is named after that target.”

If your hotel restaurant isn’t thriving, you need to bring in the experts. The Fifteen group’s expertise will help you realize the massive ROI of investing in your food and beverage program. Having worked with leading hotel brands such as Sheraton, Fairmont and Delta, they are the experts in this space. As a Foodbuy member, you will have access to a preferred pricing program with The Fifteen group. Let Foodbuy and its partners help optimize your operations.

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