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Case Study: Bringing the Coffee House to the Clubhouse with River Run Country Club's Slice Cafe

Background

Located in Davidson, North Carolina, just north of Charlotte, River Run Country Club features an 18-hole golf course, tennis facility, swimming pool, gym and other amenities. River Run offers a variety of dining options for guests, ranging from fine dining and special occasion dinners to casual fare at the golf course.

When it comes to dining, the club is always looking for ways to expand offerings and build upon its 25-year history of providing a superior club experience.

Challenge

River Run management saw members traveling off-site for their coffee needs and gathering at local coffee shops — demonstrating a gap in the club’s offerings and an opportunity for increased member engagement. When River Run decided to enhance its tennis pro shop to include a coffee bar, the club turned to long-time beverage partner S&D Coffee & Tea for insight on how to create a space with staying power and encourage members to view the club as a coffee house destination.

Approach

S&D and River Run worked together to generate ideas and create solutions to drive business for the facility — and what was going to be a small coffee kiosk developed into a true café with indoor and outdoor seating for 40: the Slice Café.

S&D partnered with River Run on logo and menu design, as well as beverage recipes and pricing. The Slice Café’s menu includes unique beverages not offered anywhere else on the property, including iced coffee and chai tea. In addition to these emerging beverages, the café offers a variety of other beverage options — from trendy peach black tea and citrus green tea to quality coffees from S&D’s Specialty Coffee Collection. These beverages can stand-alone or complement a health-conscious food menu that includes sandwiches, salads and light breakfast items.

Because of the skill required to create the espresso-based beverages served at the café, S&D’s product innovation manager, who is also a level 1 barista trainer, did a half day training session with the Slice Café baristas. Just like in a traditional coffee shop, these baristas stay in front of guests while beverages are being made — providing an opportunity to engage in a more personable way than they can in other club dining situations. This face-to-face interaction helps staff to know their members’ names and preferences, an important aspect of club hospitality.

Result

The member response to the Slice Café has exceeded expectations. Following an initial offer to sample menu items for free — a word-of-mouth marketing promotion to kick start sales — club management is seeing steady traffic at the café. Members are also changing how they experience the club, with the café serving as both a convenient fast casual dining option and a meeting place after a workout or tennis match.
“The Slice Café has been a major hit for the club so far, and members have overwhelmingly supported it,” said Tom White, general manager of River Run. “It’s bringing different members in to experience the culinary side of the club, whether that’s enjoying items from the café during a tennis event or picking up a coffee on their way to work.”

Three months into full operation, the Slice Café is running more than 30 percent above projections, bringing in up to $2,000 in additional revenue per day. A significant portion of these sales comes from the morning day-part, as more than 50 percent of customers are making a coffee purchase. Due to this success, management has already extended the café’s hours once and is considering doing so again to keep up with demand.

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