Hotel rooftop bars gear up for spring and summer demand
As warmer weather is coming for the United States, hotels with rooftop bars are setting up additional tables and updating their menus for another season of high leisure demand.
The rooftop bar allows guests and locals alike to experience the views of their cities while sipping cocktails and trying the new summer menu.
Here’s how four hotels with rooftop bars across the United States are preparing.
Of all the hotel rooftops he’s overseen, Mama Shelter Los Angeles’ is the most egalitarian place he’s seen, said Andrew Jay, the property’s general manager. There are diners in their 20s, 30s and 40s as well as people in their 60s who grew up in the Hollywood area and have made the bar “their go-to spot” for lunch.
“I love that they love the energy and vibe they give off on the rooftop,” he said.
The bar has increased the number of seats and umbrellas available as COVID-19 restrictions eased, Jay said. The rooftop will gain another bar by mid-spring that will allow employees to serve drinks more quickly at the back of the rooftop, which faces downtown Los Angeles. This should reduce queues for a drink while allowing customers to grab their drink and walk around instead of having to wait at a table for a server.
Demand in the first months of 2022 has been at or above 2019 levels, so Jay expects the rest of the year to follow. While this popularity is great for revenue, it also creates an obligation for bar staff.
“I think part of the challenge you have when you’re on a rooftop is how do you give people an experience that’s really worth seeing,” he said. “A lot of homeowners think the view alone is enough, and I never thought it was enough. You actually had to have well-prepared drinks.
The menu evolves into what Jay has called modern LA cuisine, emphasizing flavors from Southeast Asia, particularly from countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines. Food will be healthier and lighter so diners, who may want to be a little indulgent with their drinks, won’t feel heavy and bloated after their meals. There will be less fried foods and more roasted vegetables and meats with sauces and condiments that pair well with drinks.
The rooftop bar at Mama Shelter has a Cambodian chef who grew up in Alabama, Jay said. He was trained in the art of deep south barbecue but incorporates the flavors found in foods in Cambodia.
“So you’ve got both Alabama white sauce and you’ve got this herb vinegar sauce that brings a really shiny, bright acidity to grilled meat, and it’s delicious,” he said. .
The bar’s cocktail menu includes the colorful drinks that were popular in the 1960s, such as Mai Tais and Scorpions, due to their pairing with food.
The menu will be seasonal, and the bar has the advantage of being close to farmers markets and ethnic markets for ingredients, he said. These local markets helped the bar change its menu whenever ingredients became hard to find.
The Envoy Hotel, Autograph Collection, opened in 2015 as the first hotel in Boston’s Seaport District, said property general manager Joe Mellia. Being the first, the hotel has taken on the perfect location throughout the Seaport as its positioning offers guests of its Lookout Rooftop Bar views of Boston Harbor and the city skyline.
The bar initially closed during the winter, but in recent years the staff have added plastic igloos using PVC pipes with heaters and speakers so patrons can enjoy the outdoor space. Employees then created “coolers” by enclosing the bar banquets with plexiglass windows, heaters and sound systems, and the bar continued to use them during the pandemic to keep customers safe.
“I think people had an aggressive hunger to get out of their homes and knowing it was a safe environment where it would just be their party or their friends, they could make sure they were in a circle of health” , did he declare.
As spring and summer approach this year, Mellia said he expects to see a similar desire from hotel guests and locals alike, again making the Lookout Rooftop a point. hot.
“Now it’s about how do we separate ourselves in service and amenities by creating new experiences for our customers, because that’s what this is about for us,” he said. “We want to create a memory that you will talk about.”
The Lookout Rooftop mixologist creates unique cocktails with clever names, Mellia said. The bar also works with a canned cocktail company, which is “a very hot segment right now,” he said.
The bar changes its menu in the spring and summer, then for the fall and winter, he said. The bar usually serves finger foods, such as fish sandwiches and burgers, as the rooftop lacks a large kitchen. The hotel’s executive chef, Tatiana Rosana, is a two-time Food Network “Chopped” champion, and she will come up with a creative menu for the rooftop, he said.
Expected high demand at the rooftop bar means it will need to be staffed accordingly, and labor shortages continue to be an issue, Mellia said. The Lookout Rooftop has managed to retain the majority of its staff year-round, but it recruits additional staff during the summer. He partnered with Boston University to hire students during their summer vacation, and the opportunity to earn extra salaries and tips also attracted other hires, including teachers during their summer vacation. been looking to add to their nest egg.
Despite being above the hotel, Upstairs at Caroline functions as a stand-alone bar thanks to stairs that rise directly from the street, said Lynn Snyder, general manager of the Aloft Austin Downtown. Diners do not need to enter the hotel to eat there, making it one of the most sought-after destinations.
“We’re actually planning to have some of the busiest months since we opened our doors in 2017,” she said. “I really believe it’s because COVID has deprived so many people of holidays and vacations, of regular happy hour get-togethers. There really is a sense of income in the air. People want to make up for lost time.
As the bar prepares for the expected surge in demand, staff are rearranging all of its seating to return to how it was in 2017 now that COVID-19 restrictions have ended, she said .
Its menu isn’t “the sexiest,” Snyder said, as employees focus on making different types of tacos. Drink-wise, however, she said that was the strength of the bar. Bar manager Michael Sanchez is the driving force behind a strong team of talented bartenders.
“He is still on the ground. He is careful when he puts out a new drink. He asks the local guests, “Do you like it? What don’t you like about it? What should we change,” she said. “That’s really why we’re in able to stay one step ahead.”
The pandemic has thrown up challenges at the rooftop bar, changing the way the team has to operate, Snyder said. The bar’s decision to use QR codes instead of physical menus helped when they ran into a shortage of supply for certain foods or drinks, allowing them to change their menu more quickly to reflect what’s new and available.
“Eliminating the physical aspect of this menu really allowed us to change our content often without significant impact,” she said. “It really gave us the ability to not only try new things, but also to deal with supply shortages.”
The amount of demand in the spring and summer will depend on a number of factors, Malcolm Mitchell, restaurant and bar manager at Donohoe Hospitality Services, said by email. Hopefully the federal government will return to its normal pace and leisure travel will continue to resume.
The Cambria Washington, DC, Capitol Riverfront and its Perch SW bar is located between the Audi Field of the Major League soccer team DC United and the National’s baseball stadium. So Donohoe hopes both professional sports teams will attract new visitors, Mitchell said.
“Based on the cranes we see through our window, we are confident in our strategy to attract various locals and tourists,” he said.
Perch is adding a satellite bar to its outdoor patio to expand customer service and improve the checkout process by making it more efficient, Mitchell said. The bar will promote a DJ on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays to add flair.
“We anticipate this will make the vibe here in Perch reminiscent of the old DC and create a much needed destination spot for new VIP clientele,” he said.
Mitchell, who is also a chef, updated Perch’s menu ahead of spring and summer. The new menu includes his seared snapper with coconut curry tomato sauce, crabapple wood-smoked chicken and orange olive oil cake. Perch will call on Karl Franz Williams of 67 Orange Street in Harlem to create its spring and summer cocktail menu.
Over the past two years, it has been difficult to ensure stable food costs and maintain labor in inconsistent labor pools, but hotel staff are confident that this year will be different thanks to the support of Donohoe management, said Mitchell.
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