The Challenge of Creating a Great Hotel Restaurant

When planning a hotel restaurant, overnight guests are the obvious target market. But really successful hotel restaurants manage to come up with a menu concept, ambiance and buzz that reaches beyond in-house guests to attract members of the local community and even visitors.

The best hotel restaurants reflect their locations, for example in terms of fresh, local ingredients but also in the sense of the restaurant being a “neighborhood favorite,” filled with the energy of people enjoying themselves. That’s why “we want to eat where the locals eat.”

Ideally, the restaurant should have an entrance separate from the hotel’s front door and distinct signage. It also needs curb appeal and its own identity to attract the customer’s attention. Also, an entrance from within the hotel is important for the convenience of hotel guests.

At M&R Hotel Management, all our hotels are branded, carrying the flag of widely known national brands. Belonging to a brand means we must adhere to various standards. Our Holiday Inn hotels, for example, require an on-site restaurant that serves breakfast and dinner. Lunch service is optional, depending on the demand in the local market. As managers, however, we have considerable leeway as to concept, design and menu.

The restaurant at our Holiday Inn NYC-Lower East Side, for example, features a 1950s-style diner concept with upscale comfort food called Retro Bar & Grill. The restaurant at our soon-to-open Holiday Inn Staten Island will be called Lillies, featuring American cuisine with a Mediterranean flair, from fish to steak to pasta.

As hotel managers, we know we’re lucky when we get all aspects of a restaurant operation right the first time. In many instances, we partner with experienced restaurant managers and work to refine the concept, add or delete menu options, perfect the service delivery, tinker with the decor and adjust prices to ensure they’re appropriate to the market.

But when we get it right and the restaurant takes on a life of its own, it’s a rewarding part of being in the hospitality business. And speaking of business, the more successful a hotel restaurant, the more attention it attracts to the hotel it’s part of. And that’s good for business as well.

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