Custom wine cellar displays can provide a major financial revenue boost to hotels and restaurants. In this article we will explore the hospitality industry, looking at examples of how commercial wine cellars have helped bring in more customers for business owners. In addition, we will look at how wine cellar designers, installers and contractors can win this big-ticket commercial business.
Custom designed wine cellars can provide a major revenue boost to a hospitality business.
Hospitality wine displays are a great business niche for specialist wine cellar designers.
This is a guest article from expert Steve Pantalemon who will share some of his experience and insights in winning and building big-ticket commercial hospitality custom wine cellar displays.
What Are the Benefits of Having A Hospitality Wine Cellar?
A hospitality wine cellar is an addition that enhances a restaurant or hotels display and presentation of wine. Its purpose is to improve a business’s visibility by installing a wine cellar that aesthetically matches the design of the room and for people to enjoy their food and drink. It also has the effect of improving the perception of the establishment’s expertise associated with wine and the quality of the wine it carries. This means the hotel or restaurant can see an increase in patronage as well as an ability to sell higher quality wines. Ultimately this means more profit per customer.
As soon as you talk to a hospitality business owner about ways to increase the average profit per customer you will have their attention. This is both what motivates an owner to invest in a custom wine cellar in the first place, but it is also the language you need to speak to win their business.
For example, one of our clients, The Muse Hotel in New York, they were doing poorly in the hospitality arena. They had a lot of trouble bringing people to the bar, and a lot of the people staying at the hotel left to eat elsewhere. They were even not having drinks at the bar. Instead, they were finding other more interesting places to go.
When Ironwine Cellars first started working with The Muse Hotel, they were particularly interested in what we could do to improve their bar and restaurant’s patronage generally. We submitted a design dramatically improving the layout of the restaurant. As a result, it is now one of the busiest, most happening areas in New York to have a drink at the wine bar.
This not only increased the restaurant’s visibility with the people staying there but it also increased their wine and food ticket. They now make millions and millions of dollars from just this display that we put together.
What is a Hospitality Wine Cellar?
It is a commercial style wine cellar specifically designed and built for a restaurant, wine bar or hotel.
How to start working on a hospitality custom wine cellar project?
The process starts with getting an architect or a design firm if a large project requires so. A small or typical restaurant would need an individual or a small group to start off while large businesses like major hotels, say, The Muse Hotel or Ritz-Carlton, it would require a design firm or large group of professionals.
The next process now involves working on a design. A design idea can come from the designers or the business wanting a custom wine cellar. Either way, the two entities mesh their respective ideas together and identify the limitation of the project. Depending on the practicality of the space area, the scope could be decreased or increased in the process.
Once a design idea has been finalized and turned into a concrete plan, a 3D drawing or CAD render is required to portray the layout of the area and plot the design in a professional manner. This could also include the furniture placements as well as color codings.
Diving deeper into the coming up of a design idea, it basically starts with a consultancy or “discovery call” as wine cellar designers call it. This type of call discusses the following in which helps in reaching a clear plan:
- identifying the budget, the intent to spend,
- setting a time frame,
- understanding the union and non-union (collective agreement),
- knowing the concept of the custom wine cellar,
- and when it wanted to be completed.
Upon finalization of the initial design, the wine cellar designer will quote it providing a budgetary number to spend. If the business owner agrees to it, succeeding interactions like consultation and doing the rest of the design are quoted by a percentage of the scale of the project.
Speaking of budget, to give you an idea, a typical budget for a major hotel like the Deer Valley St. Regis can cost between $50,000 up to $500,000 USD. Obviously, the smaller the scale, the smaller your bill will be.
What’s it like working on major hotels?
Working on major hotels means identifying what the project is like. And it starts with the trend. Most business owners prefer contemporary in which mixes metal and glass materials along with metal racking on the side. Sometimes, wood gets into play. With a contemporary style, they’re looking more into different types of anodizing.
The racking systems would typically sport horizontal or vertical displays with wood or acrylic panel and with a backdrop of lighting to bring out that vintage and clean look.
But working with major hotels require hand holding on both sides. The communication between the builders and owners should be on a consistent basis for the project to succeed. One important thing business owners look at is to capture the vibe of the hotel when building a wine cellar or storage.
A good example that Iron Wine Cellars worked on is the A Voce Time Warner Building in New York. It features sliding doors consisting of over 5000 bottles of large formats, and eight different cabinets just to capture the vibe.
Of course, the wine bottles aren’t just for display as it relies on a split system unit. It’s basically a condensing unit with a fan coil to correct humidity and maintain temperature control for this type of environment.
Another major hotel they work on is Four Seasons located in New York which actually won as one of the top wine cellars that year.
Among those two, they also worked on Laguna Beach, Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, and Montage.
But the project isn’t just about two entities. It also involves other contractors like the suppliers of materials. Most of the time, Iron Wine Cellars would go underneath an existing builder from the business owner. Sometimes, they work with the glazier and build their own glass so long it’s cost-effective.
In addition, Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) team get consulted with a goal to build the racks and get it installed.
What are the challenges of designing hospitality wine cellars?
There’s a lot of challenges or roadblocks when designing hospitality custom wine cellars. But most of the problems that Iron Wine Cellars encounter are the following:
- imperfect measurements,
- change of colors,
- working late at night due to additional installation time,
- no receiver when shipping stuff.
However, these problems can be mitigated when everyone does their due diligence with the designer’s approval regarding colors, metals, and other details.
But among the listed problems, scheduling is the common one. This involves hitting time-constricted goals and sometimes the presence of a person supervising the project.
If there’s one problem that all wine cellar designers try to keep from happening, it’s condensation. But with precautions and guidelines, Iron Wine Cellars never had a problem about it. In their 15 years being in the business, not a single condensation issue was encountered.
All thanks to being knowledgeable of the profession – doing load calculations, communicating, preventing sunlight among others.
Condensation typically happens when the cooling unit is installed incorrectly or the fans aren’t positioned correctly. What’s important is that the air should be circulating within a glass compartment or space.
But do take note that not all solutions apply to similar problems. Say, for example, Miami and Phoenix which differ in humidity. In places like Miami, sometimes you just need a reputable refrigeration unit to avoid condensation.
Being a wine cellar builder for 15 years is no easy task. But Iron Wine Cellars provides a few tips for your business to improve.
- reach out to your local designers that build restaurants,
- do your due diligence,
- make cold calls,
How about winning projects or deals? It comes down to knowledge and confidence. Knowing what you’re doing and having confidence are keys to winning the deals. Understandably, you need to build your reputation first in which you can achieve after doing it a few times.
But in order to accomplish that, you need to explain to them and let them understand how things are doing and why you are doing it. This basically gives them the impression that you are under control of the project. Once you’ve gotten used to it, it’s basically repeating the business with the same or different people.
Sometimes you win, but most of the time you lose first. Iron Wine Cellars mostly see two reasons why other builders fail to close the deal: neglecting the consultative sale and not putting enough time into working with the designer.
Should it happen to you, make sure to educate your client, walk them through the process, and have them trust you. Essentially, you’re going to build that relationship sale.
Assuming you are in the shoes of a business owner, you should also know what you’re looking for from a wine cellar designer company. To know more about how the company works, you should ask for the following:
- experience in building a major hotel and restaurant,
- portfolio of previous works,
- understanding their accomplishment and what they can do,
- knowing and sticking with the budget.
That last bullet is the most important thing as even hotel owners are budget-conscious. No one wants a budget that fluctuates in the middle of the designing and building process. From the get-go, make sure to provide the best budgetary number.
Once a hospitality custom wine cellar is established, it most certainly and positively affects the business. The Muse Hotel in New York serves as a good example as it was an unknown Starwood hotel despite being near Broadway. After renovation, it now attracts people coming off of Broadway to enjoy the ambiance and relax.
The same goes for Laguna Beach, Ritz-Carlton. Its Ina Wine Bar was just a boring room. But today, you can sit around and enjoy conversation and drinks at the bar.
All in all, it basically increases the cost of beverage and food as well as the profit since more customers are willing to stay, drink, and eat.
The effect of a wine cellar in a restaurant or hotel
1000% ROI from a wine cellar
While it’s hard to provide exact numbers on profit, asking a previous client gave Iron Wine Cellars an answer that the business’ return-on-investment was 1000%. Yep, that’s three zeros.
With all that said, when you think about hospitality, always think about Iron Wine Cellars.