A resort or hotel often can be judged by the quality of its restaurants, particularly in today’s hospitality world where “signature”restaurants are becoming the norm. But quality cuisine and service for two, four or even eight, is relatively simple compared to serving hundreds in a limited time frame.
How a hotel restaurant prepares and services its Sunday brunch, therefore, can be a litmus test for its entire food and beverage operation. It also can be an excellent way to create more visibility – and business – for the host restaurant.
“A good Sunday brunch should be visually abundant andappealing, with a wide variety of options for the guest to sample,” said MikeKlein, director of restaurants at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill CountyResort & Spa, which features aSunday brunch at its popular 18 Oaks restaurant.
“Brunches combine the best elements of breakfast withheartier selections at carving boards, raw bar features and charcuterie. At 18 Oaks, we partner with local farms toget deliveries of the most seasonal produce to feature at Sunday brunch. Youalmost want guests to make this their one and only meal for the day, as theywill want to sample everything featured.
For some guests, Sunday brunch might be their first exposureto the restaurant, so it has to be a good experience. Sunday brunch also is agood way drive locals to the restaurant. A good Sunday Brunch experience mightbring them back for lunch or dinner during the week.
Note the word, “experience.” A great Sunday brunch, at aproperty such as The Breakers Palm Beach or The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach, isas much an attraction as the beach, pools and spas. Each feature a seeminglyendless amount of serving stations, as well as an endless supply of food, setagainst an ocean view. Guests also get an ocean view of their Sunday brunch atOcean Key Resort in Key West. The Sunday Brunch at the Biltmore in CoralGables, Fla., meanwhile, is presented around the historic hotel’s massive pool.
“Sunday brunch needs to be cheerful, sociable and inviting,”said Matt Trahan, vice president/regional general manager for Noble HouseHotels & Resorts, whose portfolio includes Ocean Key Resort & Spa andits Hot Tin Roof restaurant, as well as Pelican Grand Beach Resort in FortLauderdale and Little Palm Island in Little Torch Key, Florida. “We do brunch here in Key West as a sport. It’s a Sunday meal forSaturday night carousers.
“At Pelican Grand, it’s more visual, with seafood displays,shrimp displays, and a la carte items. At Little Palm Island it’s more aboutthe ambience and environment. But acrossthe board, Sunday brunch is all about the ambience and experience with a nod totradition.”
Sunday brunch at The Breakers Palm Beach also focuses onambience and service, but above all, the legendary property focuses on food.The unlimited Sunday brunch at The Breakers includes items such as stone crabclaws, king crab legs, a sushi bar, caviar, fresh salads and cheeses, alongwith unlimited champagne, Bloody Marys and momosas.
The brunch, in the resort’s famed Circle restaurant, is $90for adults and $40 for kids 11 years and younger. That’s certainly on the highside, but Nick Velardo, director of food and beverage at The Breakers, said theprice is well worth the experience.
“Brunch is not breakfast on Sunday – it’s become the majormeal of the day,” Velardo said. “At The Breakers it’s an event in one of mostbeautiful rooms in the world. You get your money’s worth just with the stonecrab claws. It’s a good business for us and great for the guests.”
Good business, of course, means the Sunday brunch is a moneymaker. But Jorge Ramos, executive sous chef at The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach,said it’s a fine line between profit and production.
“I don’t think I can tell you we put together a Sundaybrunch menu to make money,” Ramos said. “I think when we put together thebrunch, it’s more about us giving guests some things they really want.
“If we break even, we’re happy. But a lot of times it’s notabout making the money, it’s about trying to build the business. “
One way to build business is to cross-promote the SundayBrunch with another event at the restaurant. The 660 at The Angler’s at TheAngler’s Boutique Hotel in Miami Beach serves tapas samplers from its HappyTapa Hour every Tuesday through Friday evening.
“That’s worked out well for us and we have people who haveattended the brunch coming back for Happy Tapa,” said James Ayres, generalmanager of the Angler’s Boutique Hotel.
The 660 at The Angler’s offers brunch on Saturday andSunday, each day featuring an a la carte menu.
“A la cartedefinitely fits this property better because we don’t have the size for a bigbuffet,” Ayres said. “You can control costs a little bit better because youhave more product and if you’re charging a high enough price. But a la cartematches and exceeds our guests’ expectations.”