How Our F&B Expertise Benefits Hotel Owners

Q&A with David Crone, Vice President of Food & Beverage

Question: Can you start by sharing your background in hospitality, perhaps beginning with your first job?

David Crone: My journey in hospitality began in corporate restaurants, which is where I really cut my teeth. I started at Outback Steakhouse when it was still relatively small, only about 100 units, and I was part of its rapid growth phase. Following that, I spent seven years with Cracker Barrel, which is a great company with obviously a clear niche. They have a solid model with locations strategically placed on freeways. After Cracker Barrel, I returned to Outback Steakhouse but in a different division, the Italian Grill division under Blooming Brands. This role took me to New Jersey, where I eventually became the managing partner at Carrabba’s in Middletown, New Jersey.

Question: Did you start in the front of the house or the back of the house?

David Crone: I started in the back of the house.

David Crone

David Crone

Vice President of Food & Beverage

Question: What were some of the major highlights or turning points in your career after returning to Outback Steakhouse?

David Crone: After returning to Outback, I moved to Carrabba’s in New Jersey where I opened a new location. I was the managing partner there for a couple of years before transferring to another store, which was among the top four in the company. I eventually became a joint venture partner, overseeing 15 Carrabba’s locations across Connecticut, Long Island, and New Jersey. I worked there for 16 years before moving to Myrtle Beach to join Brittain Resorts & Hotels. They needed someone to streamline operations at their busy seafood restaurant, Sea Captain’s House, and to develop systems for their food and beverage offerings across their hotels and resorts. Over the past seven years, we’ve managed to increase sales significantly across the entire portfolio.

Question: How many covers does Sea Captain’s House handle in a busy month, and what is the seating capacity?

David Crone: During peak season, Sea Captain’s can handle about 36,000 covers a month, with dinners ranging from 1,000 to 1,200 per night. The restaurant has a seating capacity of 380. It’s an institution.

Question: What sets BRH apart in terms of managing restaurants and bars?

David Crone: At BRH, we leverage innovative systems and equipment to stay adaptable and flexible. We’re very proactive about keeping up with trends, which makes our restaurants and bars highly efficient and technologically advanced. Our independence as a company allows us to implement state of the art systems and processes without corporate constraints, enhancing our operational efficiency significantly.

Question: Can you give an example of how BRH’s approach to management and procurement offers a competitive advantage?

David Crone: One of our biggest advantages is our size and buying power, which allows us to save on costs significantly. For instance, we built our own laundry facility, enabling us to strike direct deals with textile plants, cutting out middlemen. This strategy alone has reduced our linen costs by about 40% compared to other hotel companies.

Question: Could you share some insights into the unique food and beverage outlets within the company?

David Crone: Our portfolio includes diverse and unique dining concepts like Sea Captain’s House, which has been a cornerstone for 63 years. We’re also developing new concepts, like a restaurant at Litchfield Inn and another at Market Commons. Additionally, we manage upscale restaurants like Due South at 72nd and Strong Waters Craft Cocktails & Kitchen, which are distinct from typical beach bars and grills.

Question: If you were to choose a place to dine from your company’s offerings, which one would it be and why?

David Crone: It’s a tough choice, but I would pick Sea Captain’s House because of its rich history and the quality of dining experience it offers. It’s a place that epitomizes the blend of tradition and quality that our company stands for.

Question: Could you discuss how BRH assists in creating and launching new restaurant concepts for owners?

David Crone: Our strength lies in our comprehensive resource pool and our experience. For instance, when we developed the Angry Avocado, a fast-food taco place, we leveraged our internal capabilities for POS setups and technology, which we handle in-house. We also have a strategic alliance with a design company, IQDesign. They assist with planning, decor, and procurement, which streamlines the entire process from concept to opening.

Question: What are some of your guiding principles or ‘rules of the road’ that you’ve adhered to throughout your career?

David Crone: The most important principle for me is putting people first. In all my operations, we prioritize staffing and ensure that our team is well taken care of. We strive to create an environment where everyone wants to work, because you can’t achieve great results without a great team. Providing all the necessary tools and support to our staff and leaders is fundamental to our success.

Question: What advice would you give to line staff interested in advancing their careers in the hospitality industry?

David Crone: The best advice I can give is to maintain a positive attitude and work hard. Your work ethic and how you present yourself are crucial. Being a great team member can accelerate your career progression significantly.

Question: Could you share a mistake from your career that you now view as a valuable lesson?

David Crone: One of the pivotal moments in my career was when I took on a challenging store in Middletown, New Jersey, which initially struggled to break even. The experience taught me invaluable lessons about perseverance and management under pressure. Ultimately, this experience proved critical for my growth, allowing me to understand the importance of resilience and adaptability in achieving success.

Question: What would you emphasize to a potential new hotel owner considering your management services?

David Crone: I’d highlight our versatility and adaptability. We have a wealth of experience managing diverse properties and situations, which allows us to tailor our services to meet specific needs. Our core philosophy revolves around doing the right thing by our associates, which we believe is essential for any successful operation.

Brittain Resorts & Hotels (BRH) is a full-service hospitality management company providing multi-layered expertise in all disciplines of hotel and resort operations. Since 1943, BRH has been enriching the lives of its team members, guests, partners, and the communities they serve by providing exceptional guest experiences, a supportive work environment, and superior returns. With over 4,000 rooms, suites, and condos in the portfolio, the company currently operates 20 hotels and resorts and 40+ restaurants & bars within the United States.

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Patrick Norton
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Phone: (843) 282-7359
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