Sometimes it’s as easy as opening a door. Or creating one. Throughout the lockdowns in California, which extended longer than a full year and prompted a recall effort of the state’s governor, Golden State golf clubs kept their restaurants shuttered. From Eureka to San Diego, Badwater to Balboa Island, no matter the climate, population or layout of the facilities, the public-safety orders were that clubs should remain closed for indoor dining.
A lot of clubs instituted takeout operations. Others begin their version of Uber Eats, delivering food through their respective communities. But one operator took advantage of his club’s location and clubhouse design to build a thriving food operation when others thought it was impossible.
Mark Fragale, who manages Rancho Vista Golf Club in Palmdale, California, in the desert just northeast of Los Angeles, looked at the underutilized patio on the restaurant side of his clubhouse and said, “If we cut a door right there, we could create an outdoor dining room.”
It was a little more complicated than that. New patio furniture had to be purchased, along with tall propane heaters and some Plexiglas shielding to hold back the winter desert wind. But the end result was a socially distanced dining experience that brought 2020 dining room revenues back to 2019 levels.
“It took some creativity and the support of this community in a big way, but we were able to provide an experience that worked for everyone,” Fragale said. “It was an investment. But in the end, it was worth it.”