By Colleen Isherwood, Editor
MCLEAN, Va. — Gone are the days of formal table service and elaborate room service. Embassy Suites by Hilton has refreshed its F&B program to be more bar-centric, comfortable, convenient and casual.
“Guests are much more casual about their dining experiences these days. They want good food, fresh-cooked food,” said Alan Roberts, global head, Embassy Suites by Hilton. “They don't want formality and a meal that takes an hour and a half. We realized [some existing] restaurants were not serving that need or generating the amount of revenue business owners required.”
The evolution of the brand’s dining options will begin with the launch of two new bar-centric lunch and dinner offerings. These include Brickstones Kitchen & Bar, a contemporary full-service restaurant developed for new hotels using the brand's Design Option III prototype, and E’Terie Bar & Grill and Food to Go, a fast-casual dining concept with a menu of light bites created for legacy hotels.
In legacy hotels, the approach is now to bring the bar out into the atrium area, freeing up the formal dining areas for other uses such as meeting space or guestrooms, Roberts explained.
E’Terie Bar & Grill, designed for [but not limited to] existing hotels, offers fresh, quality meals in an environment that encourages socialization, while E’Terie Food to Go will address the needs of guests seeking grab-and-go options.
Eliminating the traditional, full-service dining experience, this new fast-casual concept will offer lunch and dinner service, complementing the brand’s Evening Reception with a menu of salads, sandwiches, snacks, and entrees all available for purchase at the Atrium Bar.
Food to Go will be located next to the front desk area, and will be stocked with take away options for guests on the move. E’Terie menu items will also be available to guests desiring in-suite dining.
This will be in-room dining with a difference, Roberts noted. The delivery will be simple — eliminating carts and trays outside the door. “Food will come in a bag or a box, each entree branded with the restaurant logo. Containers will be recyclable but disposable. This doesn't intrude on the guest's time — it provides hot food quickly in an upscale container.”
Brickstones Kitchen & Bar’s à la carte salads, sandwiches and contemporary entrees are also available for dine-in, take-out and in-suite dining. Like E’Terie, Brickstones employs a bar-centric approach to serve up an indulgent, yet approachable dining experience offering inspired American dishes that are unique without being over the top.
Moreover, the concept provides owners with the ease of having one venue that can seamlessly transition from the morning’s complimentary, cooked-to-order breakfast to an à la carte grill experience for lunch and dinner.
While Brickstones provides a full-service dining experience and E’Terie a fast-casual meal, thanks to their bar-centric approach, both transform the Atrium Bar into the functional hub for all ordering and food service, creating a more streamlined staffing model for owners. Similarly, E’Terie leverages the existing infrastructure at Embassy Suites by Hilton hotels, such as the displays utilized during the made-to-order breakfast and the main kitchen, making it cost-efficient to implement and easy to incorporate into legacy properties.
Evening Reception reimagined: In addition to E’Terie and Brickstones Kitchen & Bar, Embassy Suites by Hilton is in the process of reimagining its overall food & beverage offerings, as well as the brand’s signature free made-to-order breakfast and Evening Reception.
Modifications to the Evening Reception include merging the complimentary evening reception and the pay-bar experience into one unique experience in the same area, Roberts said. “This will help drive revenue, offsetting the costs of the reception.”
Whereas guests at the complimentary reception were limited to bar liquor, they would now have the opportunity to upgrade, from bar vodka to Absolut, for example, for a $4 charge. “Forty per cent of guests have said they would buy up,” Roberts added. In addition to the complimentary hummus, salsa and crudités, servers could pass around flatbreads [the ones available in the restaurant], cut into bite-sized pieces and speared with a toothpick.
“At the end of the complimentary period, after the last call, people will still stick around and have dinner. It's a win all around,” he said.
So far there are five Brickstones and seven E'Teries open in the U.S., with Brickstones South Jordan Salt Lake City opening in April, and E’terie Tysons Corner, near Washington, D.C., to be renovated by mid-summer.
Canada' Embassy Suites by Hilton
The new dining concepts haven't come to Canada — yet. “The concepts were created to give owners a solution if they need it,” Roberts explained. “If they have an existing relationship that's working, that's OK.”
The existing relationship is certainly in place at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Niagara Falls — the largest in the system at 560-plus rooms — which is well-served by The Keg overlooking the falls.
Guests staying at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Toronto Airport, which opened last month, have The Westside Social, a comfortable place to relax with modern decor that hosts the complimentary made-to-order breakfast, the Evening Reception and casual dining as well.
Canada will have four Embassy Suites by Hilton hotels once the fourth opens at Montreal Airport in April. The Easton's Group of Companies owns and operates the Toronto and Montreal Airport locations. There is a fourth Canadian Embassy Suites by Hiltonin downtown Montreal.
Embassy Suites by Hilton is a brand that is great for business travellers, who can use the parlour area as an office; or for leisure and group travellers who want to fit more people per room, said Roberts. Guests are primarily between 35 and 50 years old with incomes of $75,000 to $200,000. “It crosses the business and leisure threshold, appealing to business, leisure, transient leisure and groups.”
Roberts feels Canada is underserved by the brand, and would like to see more of them here. “It's a strong player [for a portfolio], balancing out the ones that are heavy on business or heavy on leisure.”