Your mission, should they choose to accept it…
One of the most important factors in choosing a foodservice provider for a cultural institution is identifying a concept that is aligned with the mission and aesthetic of that institution. Full disclosure…this is also my favorite part of the process. No matter the purpose of your organization, whether you are a music venue that focuses on 16th century Italian madrigals or a museum dedicated to the history of barber shops, you deserve a food program that not only provides a quality product at a reasonable price, but one that serves as an extension of the overall experience that your team has worked so hard to create.
Once JGL has conducted our initial study process to really nail down what all of the various stakeholders of an organization are looking for in a new or renovated food program, we work hard to create an RFP that is not only clear and informative, but one that is exciting and imbued with the passion and purpose of the institution we represent. We seek out partners that share those passions, vendors who don’t just mass-produce food for maximum profit, but those who are constantly driven to innovate and who treat our client’s mission as though it were their own.
When JGL has identified a solid group of potential foodservice providers, no matter how carefully constructed the RFP, there is still a lot of work to be done to get Romulan Ale and Butterbeer on tap at the new Sci-Fi museum. Small operators are often willing to be extremely flexible and creative but have more limited resources to invest. Larger national companies frequently have tremendous time and resources to devote to a new client, but they can also have pre-packaged fast casual concepts that they are looking to drop into as many locations as possible because profit is most easily achieved through economies of scale. Larger companies also have national purchasing programs and layers of off-site approvals that are necessary to make even modest changes. If you release an RFP and don’t get the exact response you’re looking for, is that the end? Do you just take the best of what is offered? Do you need to start the whole process over again?
Submission of an RFP response is the beginning of the process, not the end. Sometimes a respondent is so focused on trying to show you who they are that they fail to demonstrate who they can be. An RFP process can be a tremendous learning experience for all involved. I recently led an RFP process which required proficiency in an extremely rare style of food that virtually no professional foodservice provider has experience with. Through the process, we all learned and grew together and it culminated in a grand tasting that was authentic but modern. Not only did our client find an incredible, unique concept and operator, but even those candidates who were not chosen walked away from the experience feeling incredibly positive. More than one commented that they didn’t know they had it in them.
Foodservice in cultural institutions has become an expected amenity and pre-packaged turkey sandwiches just don’t cut it anymore. Patrons are looking for an immersive experience. That attention to detail can pay all sorts of dividends from higher check averages and guest satisfaction to increased length of stay and more. How does your foodservice line up with the rest of your operation? If you are unsure, or think you might be ready for a change, or just want to chat about it, take advantage of JGL’s passion for the arts by taking advantage of our free consultation, available anytime you are. We are ready to take on your mission.