Tiny Lou’s opened in the Hotel Clermont in June of 2018 to national acclaim. Assistant General Manager Paige Estrada handles the buying for the brasserie (Tiny Lou’s), as well as the rooftop and lobby bars.
Tell me what 2020 was like for your operation.
In general, when we reopened after the shutdown, our inventory was really high, so we ran through everything we had, to save money a bit. Now we are in a much better place, in a place to build on the list and bring new stuff in. But it took six months to work through everything and get to this point.
Since we are located in a hotel, we do rely on the hotel occupancy a lot for sales. We can definitely tell that there is less travel. We are a 90-room hotel, and on weekends we are almost at full occupancy! Many in Atlanta are doing staycations, but that is just on weekends. During the week, we are really feeling the fact that the hotel is empty.
The ratio of sales between liquor/wine/beer stayed the same; our rooftop bar and lobby bar are all cocktails, and Tiny Lou’s is all wine. The rooftop bar has always been so busy, it’s crazy to not have to order so much alcohol and wine; crazy to not spend and order as much as 8 cases of Tito’s each week. That’s probably been the craziest thing about the past year.
On how the conversation with guests has changed
Our list is French-heavy, and we traditionally have adventurous guests. There are more questions now about our New World options, however. We focus on education for our team and lean on recommendations. There is less of that just because of the folks coming out, but we do offer something for everyone. But it has been harder on servers to recommend to this different clientele. We are definitely seeing more glass sales! I’m not sure if that is education or if guests are just looking to the main menu and not following up to look at the wine list.
We really do have adventurous guests and a lot of it goes back to service. People come to Tiny Lou’s for a true experience. The servers interact and really are leaders of the table; they do a great job at that. And they like drinking and recommending cool, interesting, fun wines! The Tissot trousseau is from the Jura, and I believe it is 100% trousseau and it is really, really tasty! [referring to a new addition this year that was the biggest success]
There really aren’t that many tables that come in and just order, there really is a service aspect to dining here. We really focus on training and keeping that standard up. Our pre-COVID guests still expect that level of service, and it gets down to a standard of hospitality. Guests still expect that hospitality, and we deliver.
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