The SOMM Journal

June / July 2015

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Page 32 of 100

{ pro-file } 32 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } JUNE/JULY 2015 AS THE DALLAS-BASED DIRECTOR OF FOOD & BEVERAGE for Omni Hotels & Resorts, Charles Riley is somewhat of a juggler, tasked with giving his customers what they want, but introduc - ing them to new things; keeping a regional perspective on menus without getting too far from the core Omni brand; providing enticing options to business travelers, while being mindful of what a vacationing family looks for poolside. "It can be a challenge, at times, to check all of those boxes," comments Riley, "but we've invested four years in understanding what our guests are looking for, and, today, our guest-centric program is working." So what has Riley and the Omni team learned about their guests? "They're looking for classic American cocktails that tell a story," he explains, citing that Omni properties sold a staggering 36,000 Moscow Mules company-wide in 2014. Riley explains that the Omni guest is also looking for familiar selections on the wine list, not "flashy" or new producers outside of guests' comfort zones. "Our guests know what they're getting with Beringer, Robert Mondavi and Hahn. They don't have to cranialize what they want, and they know they're getting a quality wine at a good price." But while classics are always in style, Riley and the Omni F&B teams are keen to keep creative with programs like Art of Breakfast, which combines national farm-to-table trends with regional flavor to make the first (and most guest-attended) meal of the day memorable. "It is so important to make a good impres - sion with breakfast," comments Riley. "Our guests are pleasantly surprised with the attention to detail we pay to something that, in many ways, is a standard experience." The SOMM Journal asked Riley to take a few moments from his daily balancing act to offer a few tips for the next generation of F&B program developers. Here's what he had to say: Put service first: "So many restaurants today are casual and relaxed—that's underserving the guest. A commitment to integ - rity and service, from comportment and posture to the positive way you interact with guest will never go out of style." Drink Central Coast wines: "A lot of people don't realize how unique the wines from Santa Barbara and Paso Robles are. Syrah and Pinot Noir can coexist in the same region! I continue to be amazed by the quality of these wines." Chilean wines are only getting better: "We've yet to see the greatness that is Chile," says Riley. "Ten years ago, it was hard to find a Chilean wine that really amazed me; now even the $14–15 wines can really be incredible." Charles Riley, Omni Hotels & Resorts' Central Regional Director of F&B, at Omni Mandalay Hotel at Las Colinas in Dallas. An Omni for All Seasons SITTING DOWN WITH CHARLES RILEY, DIRECTOR OF FOOD & BEVERAGE, OMNI HOTELS & RESORTS by Rachel Burkons / photo by Jason Kindig

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