As the world continues to get more wired and transient, defining what’s bought or consumed on- or off-premise will continue to get filled with more shades of gray.
As our food-and-beverage feature describes this month (“The Joy of Not Cooking”), more club and resort properties continue to think “in the box” and develop new twists for their takeout programs, as well as other ways to extend their ever-improving foodservice offers beyond their clubhouse walls.
This only makes sense, as properties continue to take on new, younger members and families who have an insatiable appetite for value and convenience. At the same time, takeout and delivery services stand to have growing appeal for more senior members, too, especially in residential community settings.
It was interesting, though, that as we contacted club managers for updates on their takeout programs, some were reticent to go on the record to tell us about their success—and then proceeded to tell us, off the record, that it continues to grow like gangbusters and has turned into a vital and highly profitable revenue source for them.
Apparently these managers, while admitting that they conduct the practice, are still concerned that stating so publicly might bring the wrath of the IRS down on them and jeopardize their club’s tax-exempt status. If you have evidence to the contrary, please send it to me. But I haven’t seen or heard much of anything recently that would lead me to believe that clubs in general, or takeout programs in particular, are currently enforcement priorities at the IRS—or that if they were, that the agency has the manpower to chase down and investigate every reference in a trade magazine.
Also, as some sources who did talk to us for the article pointed out, there are many ways to legitimately account for these transactions. And while I’m not a lawyer, I would only think that as the world continues to get more wired and transient and convenience-oriented, defining what’s bought or consumed on- or off-premise is an area that will get filled with many more shades of gray.
And certainly, there has been no shortage of recent reports about new ways that the industry continues to move in this direction:
• Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts introduced a 15-minute room service menu that includes “to go” options, which are also airline security-friendly, and can be delivered to a room, a car, or at the front desk as a guest is on the way out.
• At the Four Seasons Resorts Scottsdale, guests can order a “portable lunch” that consists of a tequila-lime chicken wrap with slaw, kettle chips, iced tea and a chocolate chip cookie.
Even in a private club setting, is this really that much different than boxing up part of a lunch that’s not eaten in the dining room?
Speaking of this month’s food-and-beverage feature, those of you who know its author, our Managing Editor Joanna DeChellis, will be glad to hear that because of her tremendous dedication to you, the reader, she made sure to complete that article before delivering a baby girl, Harper Lynne DeChellis, less than a week later. Harper came into the world on the day after Christmas, and she and Joanna are doing fine. Joanna will now be on maternity leave for a couple of months, planning to rejoin us for our Chef to Chef Conference in New Orleans in March.address