What is your most memorable recent hospitality experience? During the holidays I had the privilege of taking Henry, an 84 year old gentleman of German heritage, to the Munich Brauhaus on South Wharf Melbourne. His eyes lit up as we entered this beer hall styled venue, rich with natural timber and animal hide fixtures. However the beer list and menu choices were the items that really captivated his attention. I’m sure the descriptions of many dishes from his country of origin were taking him on nostalgic journeys as he shared some of these with us. Shared platters, a few beverages and good conversation made for a great hospitality adventure. It made me wonder what we do in our less themed and more mainstream venues to create memories that will be shared in years to come. Australia doesn’t have a brewing history to rival Europe or even a clear cut style of cuisine to hang our national hat on but we do have some bloody good opportunities to create memorable hospitality!
I think beer (or cider) and food matching is largely a missed opportunity for many traditional pubs, clubs and bars. It’s not always practical to have the kitchen staffed and ready to crank out the full menu throughout the day but I do believe it’s possible to create share plates or tasters that can be managed by the beverage team with a minimum of training from the kitchen. Antipasto, smoked almonds, charcuterie boards, cheese platters, artisan breads and dip selections…….. the possibilities are endless but the list doesn’t need to be. The Shared Platter of the day (or week) might revolve around a match with a small range of beers, cider or wine. How about a little description on the table brochure to tell us something about the origins of the tucker and explain what to look for in the nuances of the accompanying beverage? It would be a huge step up in terms of a memorable hospitality experience from the standard cold pot with a packet of beer nuts or crisps flung into a basket by a disengaged bar tender.
People don’t come to our venues because they are hungry or thirsty – they come because they want an experience. What can you do in your venue to make each visit more memorable?