Looking to capture a larger stomach share of guests, Embassy Suites Hotels is rolling out a new dining concept. Meant to appeal to the ascension of Generation Y and Millennial customers while also remaining true to its core Baby Boomer audience, the new Flying Spoons restaurant concept is designed to dish out upscale handcrafted cuisine in a relaxed multi-faceted environment.
The concept here is described by brand reps as a “hip-casual” approach to the dining experience; one that lets patrons grab a freshly prepared bite to eat in a welcoming atmosphere that also encourages guests to linger and relax as long as they want. There are a variety of seating options including traditional tables including bar-height /transactional seating for people on the go; traditional restaurant seating with tables and chairs; wing-back chairs and ottomans with custom lamp and power ports for people who want to settle in for a relaxing dining experience.
It’s all meant for guests to be social, productive, or both. Designed for its Design Option III -- of which there are about 60 in the pipeline – the first Flying Spoons will open in late 2008 at the Embassy Suites Jackson-North/Ridgeland, MS. The concept can also be retrofitted into existing properties.
“This is a different look from hotel restaurants,” said Rick McCue, VP Brand Performance & Support with Embassy Suites in an interview with Hotel Interactive® during the roll out event held yesterday at the brands Battery Park property in New York. “It’s about using the space how you want to, including how you want to eat.”
McCue also noted that younger generations have blurred the lines between work and personal time, creating an opportunity to satisfy guests by giving them a platform to be productive, relaxed and well fed all within the same space.
“We are working on what our customers will need in the future. What they want to feel in the hotel and part of that is the dining experience. Today’s younger guests are rejecting full service traditional style process,” said McCue.
The announcement yesterday was the culmination of three years of hyper focused testing, which was being done under the Marketplace moniker. Now the brand believes it has it has tapped into a concept that will not only be a hit with consumers, but something that will be profitable for developers.
According to McCue, the lobby based Flying Spoons will be located in the lobby adjacent to the bar/lounge and utilize the same space and kitchen facilities as the complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast and Manager’s Reception. This strategy cuts down on the total footprint of required space, while also keeping labor costs in check. In fact, Embassy Suites representatives say it will cost an estimated 30 percent less to develop than a traditional atrium restaurant.
While Flying Spoons may be the sole dining option in some properties, others may also have a traditional restaurant as well. That decision will be made by developers based on local restaurant competition and how much meeting space the hotel has. The more meeting space, the more likely a traditional restaurant will be utilized as well.
Flying Spoons will be almost always open, serving meals between 5 a.m. until 1 a.m. However, McCue said that guests looking to eat during off hours can still get food freshly prepared by cross trained front desk staff.
Menu items will include lighter fare such as fresh soups, salads and gourmet sandwiches, to more sophisticated dinner options like salmon, scallops and lobster enchiladas. The menu will also feature a rotating selection of pastries and desserts, along with specialty coffee drinks, teas and boutique soft drinks.
The menu is created to be easily prepared off of recipe cards, thereby eliminating the need for an F&B manager. Additionally, developers can opt to imbue their restaurants with local flavors. Operators are not required to adopt the complete Flying Spoons concept, and are encouraged to also serve dishes that reflect local specialties.
Part of the impetus for this design was the realization that though there was free coffee available during breakfast hours many guests were still choosing to purchase coffee drinks that could about $5. They would then eat the complimentary breakfast.
Flying Spoons will also feature a heightened design element including a warm color palette of dark gray, light gray, chocolate brown, burnt orange and robin’s egg blue. There are ottomans to put feet up on and a display of Fornasetti dinner plates, a 20th century artist known for decorating everyday objects with fanciful motifs. The most famous is the 19th-century black-and-white magazine image of a woman’s face, which he adapted for a series of dinner plates.