Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Reduce, Re-use, Re-purpose!

In a way, it's the end of an era: The halfway hut here at Victoria Park East, or "Snack Shack" as it's been affectionately known for many years, has been renovated into a rain shelter. It sits in a conspicuous spot between the 9th green and the 10th tee.
When I returned to the golf business in 1993, Snack Shack version 1.0 was a simple wooden hut, designed and built as a high school construction project by one of our neighbours. Back then, it was not legal for golf courses in Ontario to run a beverage cart, so the halfway hut was a popular - and profitable - refreshment stop for golfers. The humble and fly-blown structure sold a ton of hot dogs, snacks, soft drinks and (of course) beer. But in 1996/97, the Ontario Government revamped the liquor laws to allow alcohol sales on the golf course, and so along came the Beverage Cart... with a bang!
It was such a welcome addition to the golf business: on arrival, golfers would no longer ask about the turf and greens conditions, but would first ask "is the beverage cart out today?" I'm not exaggerating. It's still the first question many golfers ask when they check in. And so, the Snack Shack took a back seat.
In 1999, alongside a major addition to the Clubhouse, a new and better Snack Shack was constructed. More power outlets, better countertops, more room for a nice fridge, a cement floor, a proper roll-up service window, etc. The push was on to bring some relevance back to "The Shack". And we got opinions, many opinions, on how to run it. One example: "You need a BBQ - sausages and dogs right off the flame, you'll sell like crazy!" So we invested in a good BBQ, put up nice signage, burned a ridiculous amount of propane... and sold very few sausages or dogs. VERY few. Did that for two years, then gave up on the BBQ and went to a regular hot dog roller. Meanwhile, the beverage cart continued to sell extremely well, so much so, that we invested in another one.
By 2010, we began to take serious notice of how little the Snack Shack was selling, versus the costs of running it. We cut back hours of operation - much to the chagrin of some of our members and guests, and a few complained quite aggressively! So we kept it going, and saw sales continue to decline. Even on very busy days, when you would assume grabbing a snack or drink at half-way would be a no-brainer, sales were very poor. The only exceptions were some large tournaments, especially those that have played here for a number years, and used expense accounts.
Now, it's done. We will still set up a temporary foodservice station there for certain events; and otherwise, ensure that we can service golfers quickly from the Clubhouse as they make the turn from hole 9 to 10.