The newly remodeled dining room at Shenandoah Country has created quite the buzz. Recently, Chaldean News Copublisher Mike Sarafa sat down with Shenandoah President Raad Kathawa to discuss that and other happenings at the club.
CN: What has been the feedback on the newly remodeled dining room?
RK: Great, and very positive. The feedback from our members has been very complimentary. Many people have been very surprised by the difference the renovations have made. Since the new dining room opened, we have experienced a tremendous increase in revenue of almost 100 percent, and Fridays and Saturdays have been booked solid.
CN: The menu has changed and the wine list has been substantially upgraded. What is the thinking behind those decisions?
RK: The management and Board of Directors felt that because of our recent renovations, this was an appropriate time to come up with a new menu, as change can be good. They also thought the fine dining room menu should be somewhat different from the menu that is available in the club’s activity rooms. The seafood and Prime Angus steaks we prepare and serve are second to none.
As far as the changes in our wine list, members were asking for more variety. Thanks to the new, temperature-controlled wine cellar that was added as part of our dining room renovation project, we had an opportunity to expand our wine offerings.
CN: What are the plans to improve the food service in the pool area with respect to the outdoor grill that is being built?
RK: We are planning to start our outdoor project the first week of September, God willing, so we will do our best this summer to provide better and faster service to members who are enjoying the pool area. As part of the outdoor improvements, a full kitchen will be built outside, and all food served poolside will be prepared in and served from that kitchen. A new pavilion will feature a much more spacious seating area, which will make a world of difference. As a result of these changes, service and variety will no longer be an issue of concern to our members.
CN: Are there changes being made to the pool area?
RK: Yes, there are many changes being made to the pool area! To begin with, we are adding a splash pad that’s geared to children 10 years old and younger. We are also improving the surfaces in the pool area, which is a much-needed fix. Finally, a larger seating area will make the area much more comfortable for anyone who is enjoying the pool.
CN: What are the plans to enhance the outdoor recreational opportunities for the members?
RK: In addition to the things I’ve already mentioned — the new kitchen, a beautiful pavilion and improved seating area, the addition of a splash pad, and improvements to the pool area — we will have a second phase of changes that will include building two tennis courts and adding an outdoor volleyball court that members will be able to enjoy.
CN: The banquet business is at an all-time high. What do you think accounts for that?
RK: We have the very best of everything. We offer consistency, and we have a beautiful banquet hall and pre-function space that was renovated two years ago. Our members can expect that they will always experience top-notch quality, excellent service, and a five-star banquet hall and pre-function space. Also, keep in mind that we serve nothing but Prime Angus beef, fresh Amish chicken, and a great selection of seafood. We can seat 700 people comfortably in our banquet hall, with plenty of space for a nice dance floor, plus we have a state-of-the-art sound system.
CN: With the newly approved dining room came some new rules with respect to reservations, the number of people at a table, and seating people before their entire party arrives. What are the purposes behind these changes?
RK: These new rules are long overdue. People should always make a reservation when going to any fine dining establishment. Like any fine restaurant, what can we do if the room is already full and more parties are arriving expecting to be seated? Making reservations ahead of time allows us to be more flexible and anticipate what type of scheduling we need as far as kitchen staff and waitstaff, so that our service is prompt and we do not keep people waiting.
Seating a group only when the complete party arrives is not required, but we do prefer that most of the party is in attendance before the group is seated. The reason for this is simple: It allows us to provide better service to the entire group.
We have also implemented a policy of not moving tables to accommodate large groups, as it interferes with the flow and comfort level of the dining room. If there is a party of 12 diners or more, they will be seated in an overflow room that is beautifully decorated and part of the dining room. It has the larger tables to better accommodate larger groups.
CN: Recently, a group of Shenandoah members purchased Wabeek Country Club. What impact, if any, will that have on Shenandoah?
RK: Members of our club are buying businesses every day, so the fact that a group of members purchased Wabeek Country Club has absolutely no impact on CIAAM/Shenandoah Country Club.
Shenandoah is a Chaldean institution with 1,280 members, and it is home to the only Christian Chaldean museum in the world. We have great activity rooms, a fabulous banquet hall, a beautiful dining room and an 18-hole golf course, so this purchase has no impact on us. And, in addition to everything Shenandoah currently offers, we may have a few more surprises added to our property in the future.
Having said that, we wish all of our members the very best in all of their business endeavors.