Advice for Visitor Attractions
We offer a free one-hour advice and support service to any hospitality operator. Our visitor attraction services were recently tested. We would like to share our experience as we felt that an opportunity was missed to ensure a properly functioning café-restaurant a visitor attraction in Scotland.
Our free one-hour advice offer was taken up by a well-established visitor attraction. The VA is presently in the process of extending the current facilities by adding a new building for all-weather activities. This building will also house a café with a considerable seating capacity.
When we reviewed the architectural plans in the middle of November we were told that the kitchen area and service counter had not yet been planned. But the venue was scheduled to open before Christmas – 2017.
We enquired what kind of food concept would be applied – self-service or serviced and what kind of menu would be on offer. Nothing had been decided nor planned. We also enquired about the fit-out budget for kitchen and restaurant but could not obtain a clear answer.
As part of our visitor attraction services we immediately contacted a very well established kitchen planner and explained the situation. The company confirmed that the planning AND kitchen fit-out could be managed within a short period of time - possibly even within the set time frame.
The VA site was visited and it was discovered that most services (drainage and fresh water etc) were at locations which are not suitable to ensure a functional kitchen. Nevertheless, a kitchen and servery lay-out plan was developed within days and presented to the VA.
Based on the discovery that there was no real budget for the kitchen fit-out or a servery, the presented plans were axed before they could even be discussed in detail; instead it was mentioned that second hand equipment would most likely be obtained to get the operation going. The food and drink service will be dispensed from a hatch in the wall.
The missed opportunity
We at Hospitality Advisory Services (HAS) would like to provide support and advice right from the start of a project. This means that we would like to provide our input before architects are drawing up plans.
We like to review the initial investment budget, address the general food and drink concept and menu offer. Equally important are topics such as customer flow, customer experience, staffing, and business forecasting - just to name a few essential issues.
In order to ensure a properly functioning and successful café-restaurant – at a visitor attraction or a stand-alone restaurant, these matters will have to be tackled at the earliest development phase.
Of course there are other important operational issues which need to be discussed early on; this includes setting operating procedures, standards of performance to ensure a quality operation, staff and management training and meeting legal obligations.
Accepting early advice and support will prevent a possible disappointment after opening. It will ensure that the operation will be functional and efficient.