Helping F&B Gain Favor

One constant factor contributing to the disconnect between members wanting their club to be a favorite place for dining and actually considering it as such is how food and beverage professionals are always challenged to be more creative while keeping club traditions. Popular trends for club members are usually fads or movements that they see or hear about first from outside influencers and that then prompt their interest in new dining-related habits.

To help close the gap and help clubs gain more culinary favor with their members, here are some emerging popular global movements that should be watched to see if they find their way to club menus:

  • Sharing appetizers, or even full plates, has become a way of life and shows no signs of slowing.
  • SMART technology. Embracing technology continues and adds value in the areas of convenience of the service.
  • Eco-friendly packaging. This is important as environmental awareness is at the top of members’ minds.
  • Individual portions. From airports to grab-and-gos, members are overwhelmed with individual packaging and branded products. As the variety of fast-casual food offerings continues to expand, they are still seen as luxury items that can command a higher price.
  • Non-alcoholic products/trends. Alcohol will continue to play a major role in the food-and-beverage experience, but more and more consumers will ask for alcohol-free experiences.
  • Staff value-adds. The reality is that both employees and members are working differently today and looking for a more balanced mindset. Members who are younger and are now working differently in their own careers often become advocates for their clubs, changing the dynamics of staff requirements.

Additionally, large-scale dining platforms or movements are being showcased through the following club trends:

  • Citrus will always be popular, starting with lemonades and the classic Arnold Palmer, and now with other fruits including lime, grapefruit, various oranges and Yuzu (Japanese citrus fruit) continuing to gain interest in mocktails and cocktails alike.
  • Mushrooms are appearing everywhere, from steeped coffee infusions to vegetable dishes. The humble fungi have become popular once again.
  • Kimchi, Kombucha and probiotics are continuing to take hold as fermented foods are “feel good” body-aligned products.
  • Non–dairy milks, oat, wheat, almond, soy, and nuts/seeds remain popular.
  • Global culinary interests, Vietnamese, Singaporean, Indian, & Thai emerge in a luxury interest over the popular Chinese, Mexican, or Italian.
  • Individual portions are valued and are being added with snacks at the halfway house, bar, or even fitness centers.
  • Grains are endless. Ancient grains or expanded flour offerings continue to find their way to menus as expected offerings (buckwheat, farro, quinoa, wild rice).
  • Mocktail/alcohol-free spirits will have a very small but influencing part in the bar service. Embrace it; don’t ignore it or consider it a special order.
  • Sweeteners other than sugar are popular. Honey is always embraced, dates, coconut sugar, brown rice syrup, monk fruit and even the classic maple syrup have become more conversational.
  • Bamboo, wood and paper still lead the way for appreciation by members for packaging. The classic Styrofoam cup really seems out of touch.
  • Staff value and recognition. The celebration of the employee is endless and those who focus on this traditionally find more loyalty from staff and more referrals from existing staff.

Club Trends – Winter 2024

Lawrence T. McFadden, CMC, ECM and Annette Whittley are food and beverage training consultants and search executives with Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace, a consulting firm providing executive search, strategic planning and data analysis services to the private club and hospitality industries.