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FE&SEditorial Archives2003August — Facility Design Project of the Month

The Lodge at Sea Island, Ga.

Since The Lodge's opening some two years ago, guest traffic at restaurants serviced by its main kitchen has continued to increase beyond expectations. As a result, kitchen equipment and staff have been put through a trying test of endurance and creative flexibility.

In 1928, the United States was enjoying unprecedented industrial growth. The number of appliances and other machine-driven devices purchased had escalated rapidly after World War I. Cars in use had nearly tripled over the past decade, which resulted in the building of a vast highway network that linked the states. As the Roaring Twenties neared its end, the country experienced a great "bull" market.

In Georgia at this time, Howard Coffin and his cousin, Bill Jones, had invested profits they had made in Ohio's automobile industry into the development of a first-class resort and real estate properties on Georgia's Golden Isles, a scenic coastal chain, which includes Sea Island, St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island and Cumberland Island. Located between Savannah, Ga., and Jacksonville, Fla., the enterprise Coffin and Jones developed, which survived the Crash of 1929 and many economic ups and downs since then, is now celebrating its 75th anniversary.

Under the Sea Island Company umbrella, fourth-generation family members now own and operate The Cloister, a 270-room resort hotel, the Sea Island Golf Club, The Lodge at Cabin Bluff, Ocean Forest Golf Club, several residential communities on Sea Island and neighboring St. Simons Island, and The Lodge, a 40-room golf resort/clubhouse. In addition to the restaurants and more casual foodservices available at each location, Sea Island Company's property features three championship golf courses, five miles of private beach, a 1,000-tree Avenue of Oaks, 25 tennis courts, an oceanfront spa and fitness center, stables, marina and yacht services, a shooting school, beach club, three swimming pools, and family and children's programs. Little wonder a recent brochure invites guests to "rediscover the charm and warmth of a bygone era." Opened in 2001, The Lodge features concierge check-in, private butler service, a generous display of antiques, a 10,000-square-foot men's locker room, a bagpiper who plays each evening at sunset and five restaurants. It has already earned two AAA Five Diamond Awards and the Mobil Five Star Award for 2003.

Another significant feature of this property's dining program is its 3,100-square-foot main kitchen and equipment, which was designed to be efficient and flexible, so menus in all The Lodge's restaurants could be changed seasonally and keep pace with dining trends. That desired efficiency and flexibility was quickly put to a test soon after the property opened, as restaurant traffic began to increase far beyond expectations. Though no one involved is complaining about the restaurants' success -customer count is at least double original estimates - The Lodge's chefs have had to make adjustments to the kitchen's original configuration in order to produce more meals in the same amount of space.

The restaurants serviced by The Lodge kitchen include the 70-seat Colt & Alison's, an upscale steak house with an 800-bottle wine cellar, open for dinner only; the 80-seat Terrace, which serves continental cuisine with Southern influences at breakfast, lunch and dinner; the Oak Room Bar, featuring drinks, sandwiches and snacks; a casual grill in the men's locker room; and refreshment kiosks in "half-way" houses on the golf course. Twenty-four-hour room service orders, picnic baskets for guests and 160 meals per day for the employee cafeteria are also produced from this kitchen. The total equipment cost was $1 million, including pieces installed in the butler's pantries on each floor and the two refreshment kiosks. The foodservice staff includes 35 FTEs, including stewards, who service the hotel's guest rooms and are offered an opportunity to train and advance into foodservice positions.

"Both Colt & Alison's and The Terrace can be very busy between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.," explained Todd Rogers, executive chef for Sea Island Company, "so we have to be ready to handle the volume." In order to meet the production demand, Rogers and staff have had to concoct creative menus and systems of organized workflow.

"Originally, we designed the hot line so one half would produce meals for Colt & Alison's and other for The Terrace," recalled Jeff Brown, vice president of Hospitality Design, Inman Foodservices Group, L.L.C., Miami. "We also installed a convection oven for baking. But when production volume changed, alterations had to be made."

Today, both sides of the line support both restaurants. In addition, a large convection oven was moved to The Cloister's kitchen, the site of all baking for Sea Island Company's foodservices.

"Although we serve several facilities," noted Rogers, "I like the one-team configuration of the kitchen's production space. Everyone works together in a limited area to produce a lot of volume at one time." The presence of food expediters and runners, he said, is crucial to making the system work. Ingredients are brought into The Lodge's kitchen from one receiving dock that is on the same level as the kitchen and another dock located one level below. Products such as bread and fresh produce from The Cloister are delivered upstairs and placed into walk-in coolers and freezers and refrigerated and dry storage for immediate usage. Live lobsters are also delivered to the main level and placed into a tank, which is located a few feet from the door. Products delivered by a prime vendor are received at the lower-level dock and placed into bulk storage areas on that level. An elevator is used to transport products upstairs.

Kitchen production is distinctly divided between hot and cold preparation and cooking. "I like to separate the hot and cold food when we can," explained Brown. Hot prep begins in the back of the kitchen, adjacent to the refrigerated storage. Included in this section are a double convection oven, a convection steamer with a kettle, a 40-gallon kettle, 30-gallon braising pan and an open burner range. This equipment is used for the preparation of soups, stocks and sauces, and roasting. A smoker adds flavor to such menu items as baby back ribs, lobster and veal rib steak. A European-designed double-deck oven with a proofer was originally installed, but was later moved to The Cloister kitchen to make room in The Lodge's kitchen for additional ranges to handle production for the Oak Room Bar, which serves casual fare.

On the adjacent hot cooking line are two separate fryers to make Southern fried chicken, french fries, fried lobster tail (a specialty in Colt & Alison's), fried green tomatoes, fried cheese grits and fried oysters. Sauté ranges are used to prepare meat and fish, including Ahi tuna, foie gras, blackened shrimp, molasses-cured salmon and potato-crusted salmon. A griddle is used to make quesadillas served in the Oak Room Bar, as well as crab cakes served at Colt & Alison's and The Terrace.

Salamander broilers positioned above the equipment are used to finish and brown meat and seafood entrées. At the hub of the cooking line is the charbroiler, which holds wood chips that assist chefs in adding a smoky flavor to meats, including cowboy steaks, prime sirloins, porterhouse steaks, ribeye chops and filets. The charbroiler also grills double lamb chops, a signature "drunken" pork chop and portabello mushrooms for sandwiches and burgers.

A brass and powder-coated decorative exhaust hood and ample undercounter refrigeration were also crucial components of the design and equipment layout. The exhaust hood complements the decorative heat lamps. The undercounter refrigeration is an ergonomic benefit, as well as making a contribution to safe food handling. "By placing refrigeration on the hot cooking line," Rogers said, "staff don't continually have to do the twist, turning around to a refrigerator behind them and then back to the line."

On the opposite side of the hot cooking line are soup wells, heat lamps, a steamer for vegetables, POS equipment and an iced garnish pan. In the very center of the space dividing the hot and cold preparation are green-colored Corian-covered landing tables where production comes together. Trays are stored underneath, which servers pick up, fill with their orders and deliver to guests.

The cold pantry in the front of the kitchen contains equipment for salad and cold food preparation. Under-counter refrigeration units, as well as a dedicated walk-in cooler, were situated here so staff members don't have to walk across the kitchen to obtain ingredients.

A rotisserie was positioned near the cold pantry, closest to the kitchen's exit doors and adjacent to Colt & Alison's restaurant. Also in the kitchen is a dedicated space for room service make-up, including coffee makers, beverage dispensers, toasters, soup wells, counters and POS equipment.

Making this kitchen easy to clean and a safe food-handling environment was a consideration throughout the design process. Among its sanitation-enhancing features are quarry tiles placed on floors, equipment designed to be elevated on curb bases and remote refrigeration compressors installed to make maintenance easier, conserve energy and eliminate extra noise.

Another feature added for safety, energy efficiency and flexibility is a utility distribution system, to which all equipment on the hot line is connected. "This single unit has all the electrical breakers, all the gas quick disconnects and water disconnects," said Brown. "It gives the staff the ability just to un-hook and then move pieces of equipment. There are spare connections underneath, so equipment can be moved without cutting pipes and necessitating renovations." As Sea Island Company celebrates its 75th anniversary, it has announced its ambitious plans for renovation and development. The Cloister Hotel, including its kitchen, will be renovated and refurbished for an estimated $200 million. Home sites will be built and continuous improvements made to facilities. Kitchen expansion plans are in the making for The Lodge, as well, so the space can better accommodate production demands. A display cooking station may be built for the Oak Room Bar. This family-owned destination resort and residential community, which has continued to capture the physical luxury of a "bygone era," is also looking to appeal to a new generation's preferences for meal variety and speed of service. A potent combination, indeed.


1. Service counter
2. Milk/cream dispenser
3. Pass-through rotisserie
4. Order clips
5. Cold pantry table
6. Dipper well
7. Ice cream cabinet
8. Wall shelf
9. Convection oven
10. 5-qt. mixer
11. Sandwich unit
12. Slicer
13. Mobile waste receptacle
14. Disposer w/control panel
15. Refrigerator
16. Trash receptacle
17. Hand sink
18. Shelving
19. Pantry cooler assembly
20. Mobile pan rack
21. Cooler shelving
22. Blower coil
23. Microwave oven
24. Rotary toaster
25. EDP/POS printer
26. Counter w/shelf
27. Landing table
28. Soup well
29. Heat lamp
30. Double heat lamp
31. Ice garnish pan
32. Steamer
33. Refrigerator/freezer
34. Cook's table w/sinks
35. Waffle maker
36. Bain marie
37. Bain marie w/heater
38. Insulated heated holding cabinet
39. Carving station
40. Fryer/filter assembly
41. Open burner range
42. Sauté range
43. Salamander broiler
44. Infared broiler
45. Refrigerated grill stand
46. Charbroiler
47. Griddle
48. Utility distribution system
49. Exhaust ventilator
50. 60-qt. mixer
51. Double deck oven w/proofer
52. Smoker
53. Floor trough w/grate
54. 30-gal. braising pan
55. 40-gal. kettle
56. Convection steamer w/kettle
57. Double convection oven
58. Prep table w/sink
59. Food chopper
60. Baker's table
61. Dough divider
62. Mobile ingredient bin
63. Cereal dispenser
64. Coffee brewer
65. Cup and glass rack
66. Coffee grinder
67. Toast station
68. Toaster
69. Iced-tea brewer
70. Juice dispenser
71. Water filler
72. Beverage counter w/sink
73. Mobile ice cart
74. Room service table
75. Office furniture
76. Cook's cooler assembly
77. Ice storage bin
78. Cube ice maker
79. Water filter assembly
80. Fire suppression system
81. Power interruption device
82. Cook's freezer assembly
83. Freezer shelving
84. Receiving scale
85. Mop/broom holder
86. Mop sink
87. Chemical shelving
88. Lobster tank
89. Mobile rack dolly
90. Pot washer
91. Sink heater
92. Utensil sink
93. Pulper control panel
94. Mobil dish dolly
95. Clean dishtable
96. Dishmachine
97. Booster heater
98. Waste pulper
99. Silver soak sink
100. Soiled dishtable

Design Capsule

The Lodge at Sea Island, Ga., is a 40-room golf resort/clubhouse. Its 3,100-square-foot main kitchen is equipped to produce meals and snacks for the 70-seat Colt & Alison's, an upscale steak house open for dinner only; the 80-seat Terrace, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner; the Oak Room Bar, featuring drinks, sand-wiches and snacks; men's and women's locker rooms; and "half-way" houses on the golf course. Twenty-four-hour room service and 160 meals per day for the employee cafeteria are also produced from this kitchen. The total equipment cost was $1 million, including equipment for the "half-way" houses. The foodservice staff includes 35 FTEs, including stewards, who service the hotel's guest rooms and are offered an opportunity to train and advance into foodservice positions.

Owner: Sea Island Company, Sea Island, Ga.; Bill Jones III, chairman and CEO
Executive Chef: Todd Rogers, Sea Island Company
Architect: Architectural Design Group Inc., Raleigh, N.C., Mike Ramsey
Architect, Sea Island: Peter Capone Associates, Santa Ynez, Calif., Peter Capone
Interior Designer: Cole Martinez Curtis and Associates, Los Angeles, Jill Cole
Foodservice Consultant: Inman Foodservices Group, Jeff Brown, vice president of Hospitality Design, Miami
Kitchen Equipment Contractor: Medley Hotel & Restaurant Supply, Albany, Ga., Bill Busch, project manager

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