In 2013, the New York Hilton rattled the industry by taking the decision to discontinue room service to 2,000 guest rooms and replace it with with a cafeteria-style, grab-and-go restaurant. In contrast, the Loews Regency New York re-opened its renovated dining room and announced that its latest San Francisco acquisition will re-create the Park Avenue ‘power breakfast.’
Clearly, the two New York properties are very different sizes: the Hilton at 1,981 guest rooms is the city’s biggest, while the Loews has 379 rooms. Also, Avenue of the Americas has more coffee shops and takeaway options than Park Avenue.
Still, two flagship midtown Manhattan hotels within a stone’s throw of one another, both opened in 1963, a recent rate search for a two-night midweek stay resulted in rates within $20 of one another However, the two properties have reached totally different strategic decisions regarding food service, breakfast in particular.
As expense accounts are tweaked and menu preferences change, it begs the question management should be considering: when did we last look at our property’s positioning vis à vis room service, mini bars and what is the contribution of F&B’s revenue stream for breakfast? Is there something important being overlooked?
The Power of Local
Most of those $25 eggs and $28 continental breakfasts aren’t being fed to overnight guests. The Regency Grill and Bar is drawing on New Yorkers for breakfast reservations that sell out 48 hours in advance…and it’s not about the menu.
Some properties are finding a fit for afternoon tea. Others have produced revenue by serving ice cream from a cart at poolside. Still others have introduced a juice bar in the fitness room. Wine tasting evenings and artisan cocktail menus can attract a local audience.
The term and the concept ‘power breakfast’ was born out of tough times in New York City. While New York City was struggling to find its feet during a fiscal crisis, the city’s tourism bureau consulted with city leaders on innovative ideas. Among those leaders was Preston Robert Tisch, co-founder of Loews Corporation and Chairman of the New York Convention & Visitors Bureau, a position he held for 19 years until 1986. Among those ideas was the hugely successful Big Apple campaign and, for Tisch’s own hotel, the power breakfast.
Beginning with JFK in the 60s, politicians had begun publicly calling for cutbacks in entertainment tax deductions. Jimmy Carter, labeled as a teetotaler, stirred it up. Ted Kennedy famously attacked what he termed ‘the three-martini lunch.‘ Tisch turned the tables by focusing on the upside potential of 7 a.m. and the Park Avenue power breakfast was born.
Forty years later, shiny black town cars pull up five days a week. Breakfast at The Regency gathers New York City’s most powerful professionals, politicians and celebrities as though it were a private club. Seating arrangements are mapped out by the room’s majordomo as they’ve been been for decades years. Go figure.
Coyle Hospitality Group’s consulting team assists brands and independent properties looking to create service offerings that are perfectly positioned to appeal to changing trends in the marketplace, including an emphasis on F&B. Additionally, we offer rooms reservations and sales/catering mystery shopping calls.