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Marc Forgione



August 27, 2012

What you may want to consider when courting a celebrity chef or existing concept
By Francine Cohen

Undoubtedly, hiring a celebrity chef or bringing on a familiar concept to be a spotlight restaurant on property is a calculated move. One designed to leverage their popularity and benefit from their exposure and ability to draw in guests. Finding the right name brand chef or restaurant group to partner with your hotel can be an interesting process and requires quite a bit of consideration in terms of how you are going to run your f&b program and what you want to represent to the outside world when people think of dining with you.

Bringing that known entity on board can be a very good idea that results in a mutually beneficial partnership, but, as always advised before getting into bed with someone, doing your due diligence makes the decision an even better idea. And one that will enable you to insure your partnership is in keeping with your brand’s philosophy.

At the family friendly resort, Atlantis, Paradise Island (, a new restaurant came on board (Virgil’s – that was an extension of an existing, and satisfying, partnership. Ian Reid, SVP of Food & Beverage explains how and why the relationship with Alicart restaurant group ( has expanded to satisfy guests, “My team and I evaluated what cuisines were currently being offered at Atlantis and identified Virgil’s Real BBQ as the perfect way to incorporate a dining experience that we didn’t offer anywhere on property. It was important to craft a mouth-watering dining menu that would be familiar to our guests and to add another great value option to our Atlantis meal plans.”

This new addition went into an old restaurant space that existed on the property. Virgil’s took over where the Waters Edge restaurant left off, offering diners an indoor space that’s 11,000 square feet and a 3,000 square-foot outdoor patio. Reid describes, “Noted interior architect and designer, Jeffrey Beers, translated the restaurant’s road-trip concept into Continue Reading…



August 17, 2012

By Sharon Harris-Zlotnick

Wild Horse Pass Casino, Phoenix

Did you ever watch the people at a casino? Gamblers obviously gamble, but what about the 27% of casino customers who don’t? According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), more than one-quarter of casino customers never gambled during their visit in 2011. If not to gamble, why come at all?

Ironically, the AGA also revealed that another 27% of American adults-59.7 million people-did gamble in casinos in 2011. Of those players, 76% also ate at the casino’s fine dining restaurant. Approximately 70% of the non-gamblers claimed that dining is a favorite activity when patronizing a casino. So, millions choose to dine at casinos every day of the year. Local restaurants also benefitted since 62% also ate in casino neighborhoods.

What is the obvious conclusion? Casinos with excellent dining choices earn more and attract more customers.
Casino restaurants fall into three categories:

• Properties operating their own individual or corporate-linked outlets.
• Venues outsourcing restaurant operations to national or local celebrity chefs.
• Casinos using outside restaurant management companies.

Smart operators must clearly understand the pros and cons to develop a strategy. David Rittvo, the food & beverage division director of The Innovation Group, a New Orleans-based consultant and management services provider for the food and beverage industries, cautions that a positive relationship depends on the management and chef carefully negotiating the “comp” programs levels to sustain adequate control and pricing on both sides.

“Prospective celebrity chefs should question if the foot traffic will positively increase Continue Reading…