The problem of what to do with hungry golfers has really manifested itself in the post COVID-19 world.
As we reported nearly two months ago, golf courses are having a real problem recruiting staff, especially in their restaurant operations.
Necessity is the mother of invention, however, and at least two area golf courses, Knollwood and Sawmill, may have found a solution for voracious golfers: food trucks.
Before the why, there is a story behind.
Jason Cassis, co-owner of Knollwood Golf Club, said when the pandemic hit they lost 100% of their food and beverage revenue due to events, like weddings and banquets and everyday golfers .
“Most golf courses don’t run profitable food operations in the absence of events,” he says. “The volume and margins of a foursome sitting in the clubhouse are usually not enough to offset the fixed costs of food and beverage service, which includes a chef and service staff.”
Cassis says when golf courses started to reopen, big events were very, very slow to come back. He says golf courses have been forced to make decisions about their food and beverage operations losing money without knowing when or if weddings and banquets will return.
And to this was added the problem of finding staff, especially seasonal workers.
“Your events may be year-round, but your burger and beer business only lasts about six months,” he says. “In the absence of being able to find manpower, a solution had to be found for the leagues and for the tournaments and for the everyday golfers who are hungry.
Cassis credits the answer to Knollwood’s general manager, Nadia Clarke.
They contracted out some sandwiches to a grocery chain and moved them, along with the soft drinks, to the pro shop.
And for the really hungry golfers, they’ve brought the Hammer Hogs BBQ Food Truck. It is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and is located between the green and the 10th tee at Old Knollwood.
“It was very well received by golfers and we even had people passing by on Shaver Road and stopping to eat at the food truck,” Cassis says. “We are running a pilot project on the Old Course and so far everything is going well and the food truck operator is happy and doing well.”
Cassis says it’s actually doing so well that he thinks they could double down and put one in New Knollwood next year as well.
Carrie Julie, who owns and operates Sawmill, in the Fenwick Peninsula with her husband Jeremy, also had a staffing issue, but their situation was a little different from Knollwood’s.
“Friday nights before COVID, we had done a musical series on Friday nights on the golf course and it attracted a lot of people,” says Julie. “The members wanted to have the musical series again, but the idea of having 200 people on the golf course and not having a cook – we just couldn’t do it.”
Julie says the stress of trying to figure out what to do became unbearable when they came up with the idea for food stuff.
“I had followed a few food trucks on social media and we contact Carson’s Food Truck in St. Catharines and we do that every Friday night from 4-9pm. They serve from the food truck and we serve drinks and it was a match made in heaven,” she says.
“We know the quality is there, and they’re going to be there. We’ve decided to do it just one day a week this year, but if the success continues, we’ll consider doing it more days a week, absolutely.