Something very exciting is happening at the Cleveland (Ohio) Airport Marriott—something that should interest any hotel owner or manager looking to build their restaurant business. The Marriott owned and managed hotel, which completed a $20 million renovation in July 2009, has a restaurant—AMP 150—that has been getting steady local publicity since it opened in September 2009. “AMP” stands for “America’s Modern Palate.” According to a recent article in Crain’s Cleveland Business, sales at AMP 150 have been three times greater than what was expected for the first year. Why the success? Here is my take: Hotel management hired an executive chef—Ellis Cooley—who understands the power of social networking, community involvement, and using local, fresh, natural and simple menu ingredients.
Cooley told me that if you don’t purchase locally, you make your life more difficult and spend more money. Cooley’s approach can certainly be considered “farm to table” but it is also “parking lot to table.” I took a walk behind the hotel and there is a garden that stretches a quarter-acre along the parking lot and back fence, in close proximity to an interstate and a row of houses. The garden was put together with the help of kitchen staff this past summer. Tomatoes, corn (400 stalks), peppers, cucumbers and other items are grown there and appear throughout the year on the restaurant’s menu that is updated two or three times a week. AMP 150 is proof that an urban hotel can use the patches of green that it does have to grow its own food. (There are also three bee hives on the roof.)
Produce not grown on the hotel grounds is purchased, when possible, from businesses located throughout Northeast Ohio—farmer’s markets and businesses with names such as Killbuck Valley Mushrooms and The Chef’s Garden. Buying locally not only supports the local community, it also reduces AMP 150’s overall carbon footprint.
Facebook and Twitter
One of the ways Cooley has helped create new business for his restaurant is through social networking. His Facebook page has more than 800 friends and on Twitter he has 4,600 followers. Not too shabby. He posts new messages when there is a menu change and followers even make reservations through his Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Cooley may not admit it but for his local approach to good tasting food he has become a bit of a celebrity with numerous TV and radio appearances. That can only be good for the Cleveland Airport Marriott.
In addition to its popular AMP 150, the hotel has garnered publicity for some of its other environmental efforts. It is one of the only hotels in Cleveland to graduate from the E4S Sustainability Implementation (SI) Program.
Being a hip destination—especially for those so plugged into social networking and the local food movement—has made AMP 150 a repeat stop for hungry folks in Northeast Ohio. What is stopping you from taking an AMP 150-like approach at your hotel? The restaurant is further proof that an intelligent, creative business person can turn green into gold.
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See You in New York?
I will be attending the International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show in New York City. The event will be held from November 13 to 16 at the Javits Center. If you plan to attend or exhibit at the show, be sure to let me know. Approximately 700 exhibitors and 30,000 attendees are expected.
Off the show floor, seminars will address everything from adapting to new consumer attitudes and online customer interaction, to powering up profits and developing winning sales strategies. Be sure to catch “Green Certified Demystified” on Sunday, November 14, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., featuring AH&LA green consultant Pat Maher. This program will address the process and criteria for the top green certification programs, including LEED, Energy Star and Green Key Global.
For more information about the International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show, click here.
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