It was cool to get the book, “Whatever it Takes, Journey of Success and Excellence in the world of Hospitality” penned by Robert Cohn, an uber-experienced Director of Food and Beverage, to review. My interests in the wine industry includes, as expected, educating myself on the food industry. Cohn’s book is an eye-opener of the tremendous effort most of us are unaware of that occurs, daily, behind the scenes.
Robert Cohn has served as Director of Food and Beverage at several world-class hotels and resorts, such as La Quinta Resort & Club, Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa, and Chateau Elan Winery and Resort in Georgia.
He has always put an emphasis on maximizing profit for ownership by providing world-class product and service, for which a premium is paid by clients. He has been heavily involved in creating innovative menu and drink concepts, generating a wow-factor for hotel or resort guests.
He started his career in his native country, the Netherlands, at a young age, and perfected his hospitality skills after graduating from the famed hotel school of Lausanne, Switzerland.
He ended up in the United States, where he developed a keen sense for the business-side of hospitality. He has established many signature items at his various career-stops, such as the Lava Flow on Kauai….(more)
My Take Aways/Review
A 15-year-old Cohn is inducted into the service industry by a restaurant owner that served “the best parts of both meat and fish…to the dog and cat” before his family and finally, his employees.
That same restaurant owner taught Cohn to “do it right or don’t do it at all.”
A few summers later Cohn worked a successful event that was attended by Bob Hope and Wayne Newton was the entertainer. It was that event that “reinforced…that doing things right and striving for excellence always pays dividends.”
When he got his work visa to travel to the United States he took a job in Mississippi. His manager, 28 at the time, explained that guests never took no for an answer. Undaunted, it was there that Cohn developed his motto, “Yes…what is the question?”
Later, while working in Hawaii, Cohn learns that sharing the monthly beverage profits or losses with his staff “motivate(s) people because, in the end, it is all about people.” Can’t agree more with that kind of thinking. Management that disconnects from the staff, can stand to lose its greatest resource: a motivated staff.
In an entire chapter on Hurricane Iniki Cohn tells countless stories of the fortitude not only of the hotel staff, but also of its guests. Left to their own devices, for many days without help, food or water, guests and staff worked together, helping wherever they could. At, at the end, the guests thanked the staff for getting them through it.
Biggest takeaway? Throughout the book the reader is reminded how important cleanliness, hard work, policy, staff relations, inventory and décor are – and as the key to a successful enterprise. But instead of just stating these thoughts Cohn retells great success stories. Stories like these that you would definitely want being shared about your restaurant, bar, hotel or resort.
Eve Bushman has been reading, writing, taking coursework and tasting wine for over 20 years. She has obtained a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, has been the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and recently served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits that may be answered in a future column. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com