We asked the ClubCorp Senior Vice President of Food & Beverage for insight into his corner of the industry.
Sean DiCicco is a 30-year veteran of the food-and-beverage industry. DiCicco started his career as a cook in high school, and through education and years of working in high-end restaurants, hotels, and casinos, he’s held positions with MGM Resorts International, Four Seasons Hotels, and Caesars Entertainment. He is currently the Senior Vice President of ClubCorp, a company that owns and operates more than 200 country clubs, College Stadium Clubs, and City Clubs throughout the U.S. He also serves as president of the Epicurean Charitable Foundation, granting full-ride hospitality scholarships to deserving Clark County High School graduates.
Back Bar USA: What is the current state of affairs where you work?
Sean DiCicco: Like all businesses, we are navigating the post-COVID-19 waters, trying to find a compromise between giving personable service while adhering to CDC and jurisdictional guidelines. [We’re] bringing back furloughed employees slowly as revenues start to recover while redefining F&B protocols and steps of service to accommodate.
BBUSA: How is your corner of the industry recovering?
SD: The country/private club business is unique [when compared with] regular restaurants, bars, and lounges. Our members pay dues and want to spend time at their clubs. In general, members probably feel more comfortable around other known members versus complete strangers as you would encounter at a public establishment. I feel [that’s] the reason we, as an industry, are recovering more quickly.
BBUSA: What impact could the pandemic have on your industry or workplace?
SD: During the recovery—as masks, gloves, and social distancing become less of a practice—I feel technology will only improve. Paperless menus and much less contact during payment transactions are becoming the norm. Cleaning and sanitizing practices have improved tremendously and will also become the standard. At the corporate offices, companies will employ and house less staff. Zoom, Skype, and team meetings have been effective for the past few months, and are likely the new normal moving forward, reducing payroll and traveling expenses drastically.
BBUSA: What’s been your focus? What new methodologies have proven successful?
SD: My focus has been on creating value for our members and developing ways to assure member retention. Focusing on a robust and value-driven “to-go” program has helped the company drive revenues while club restaurants remained closed for 10-16 weeks. Themed heat-and-serve packaged meals have been popular and well-received. Getting creative with experiential programming and offering virtual wine tastings, discounted wines, and packaged mixed cocktails with relaxed liquor laws have also been a huge success for us, driving beverage revenue and reducing inventory.
BBUSA: Who is someone you think has been doing something positive in your industry? How are they contributing?
SD: I would like to call out the organization of which I have been the president for the past six years, the Epicurean Charitable Foundation. This non-profit provides full-ride scholarships to students pursuing a career in the hospitality industry. In addition to the funding, we also offer each student board members to mentor them through all four years of college. We help open doors and make an introduction to key players in our industry. Upon graduation, our kids usually have four years of work-related/real job experience to supplement their degrees.