This week, we spent two days networking and learning alongside Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association colleagues at the annual FRLA Marketing & Operations Summit. This annual event brings together Florida’s most influential hospitality power players and top-level executives in pursuit of the best practices and business trends to increase overall sales and customer satisfaction.
General Managers from Landside and the Pier, Matt Andrus and Tim Bingham respectively, joined owners John & Amanda Horne, Guest & Human Relations Director Nicole Davila, and Eleni Sokos from Sokos Social, whose firm handles our digital marketing initiatives.
Our team learned so much about how to deliver the best possible guest experience. Outstanding keynote speakers included Erin Moran of Danny Meyer’s Urban Square Hospitality Group and Jim Knight of Knight Speakers (who has decades of experience with Hard Rock Cafe).
USHG has pioneered an interesting, yet controversial, initiative in the hospitality industry called “Hospitality, Included” that essentially eliminates tipping in the dining experience – so it was really interesting to hear Erin’s first-hand perspective on that experiment.
Sessions like “Operator Realities And The Challenges That Lay Ahead For Foodservice,” “Restaurant Technology: Where Is It Going And How Do I Decide What I Need?,” “Whiskey, Not Just A Man’s Drink: Ladies Leading In The Whiskey Resurgence” and “Values Based Companies – The Future Of Business Today” were entertaining and informative, educating us on trends and technology in operations, marketing, and human resources.
The setting was spectacular as well, right on the Atlantic Ocean at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa. Situated on a private beach, this Fort Lauderdale resort was beautifully maintained with friendly staff who served us with a smile… even when we thought our room reservations had been lost!
One AWESOME thing about traveling with the AMOB gang is that we are all major food enthusiasts (no surprise there!). So we were delighted to check out two local establishments which came highly recommended, and we agree: two must-visit spots on your next trip to Ft. Lauderdale.
Royal Pig Pub
We cannot say enough about how awesome Royal Pig Pub was. Their team combines creative, local ingredients with a distinct Southern/NOLA flair for a dining experience that was first-rate. Our Research & Development crew was more than a little inspired by dishes like the New Orleans BBQ Shrimp over Sweet Potato Grits and the mouthwatering Pork Shoulder “Porchetta” that you’ve gotta see to believe. Plus, we gave the cocktail menu a solid test-drive, of course, and gained some ideas to bring back to AMOB on the Pier.
Talk about WOW factor! Steve Martorano has built an empire of Italian-American joints inspired by his upbringing in South Philly that would rival his mob-boss uncle’s kingdom in Philadelphia and beyond. We were greeted by his attentive and friendly Cafe Martorano staff, and promptly whisked off on a family-style culinary adventure. Steve himself chose our menu which highlighted some of the most popular selections at this Ft. Lauderdale institution, that combines great music (Steve also DJs from the line in the kitchen) with old-school mafia films for an intimate and memorable experience. We were blown away by the Grilled Octopus and the simple-yet-perfect Warm Mozzarella.
Check out this fun video by our friend who was also the Master of Ceremonies, Heiko Dobrikow, who is the GM at the nearby Riverside Hotel (side note: we absolutely adore this boutique hotel property). Be sure to flip through our photo album below to see our smiling faces… and what we ate… and don’t miss the shots of the rousing drumline which kicked things off with a bang!