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FE&SEditorial Archives2005April — Feature

Tabletop Performance Award Winner: Walden Golf & Tennis Club
An eye-catching table-setting complements the Frank Lloyd Wright-style architecture while letting the food be the focal point.

Photos by Peter Renerts Studio

After successfully meeting members’ needs for 32 years, one might think a country club would become somewhat set in its ways. In the case of Aurora, Ohio’s Walden Golf & Tennis Club, winner in FE&S’ Clubs category in its 2004 Tabletop Performance Awards, the exact opposite is true.

This private club in suburban Cleveland was a component of a 1,000-acre residential community formed with the purchase of five farms. Originally, the Walden Golf & Tennis Club was a modest facility housed in a 175-year-old barn. Today’s upscale yet comfortable club is unique in that it is part of a planned community of custom homes and offers a broad range of activities including a world-class golf course, which will host the 2005 Ohio Open; tennis; swimming; horseback riding; and multiple dining venues.

Five years ago, the Barenholtz family made the decision to expand the hospitality end of its business by adding Walden Country Inn & Stables, a five-diamond luxury inn that features 25 suites spread across 32 acres and a formal gourmet dining facility. Aptly called The Barn, this elegantly restored structure houses the winning tabletop design. The property’s other two dining venues are the informal Blue Ribbon Café, which serves breakfast and weekend brunch to guests of the Country Inn, and the Mixed Grille, which overlooks the golf course and serves the members lunch and dinner.

Concurrent with this two-pronged expansion, in 1999 the family enticed son-in-law Rob Rosencrans to leave his position in the cable TV industry to join Walden as managing partner. “My plan was and is to set a very high standard and to achieve or exceed it,” Rosencrans says. “I think we compare favorably to the ‘best of the best’ clubs across the United States.”

The tabletops fit perfectly into a room that, instead of the usual decorative elements, features “walls of glass” that take full advantage of the views of the golf course. “The new table-settings warm the room,” Rosencrans says. “The contrast of the china and glassware seems a bit eclectic at first but they work together in creating interest in the tabletop. They are clean, not bulky, and provide a regal touch.”

Management felt the tabletop was a critical element in creating the upscale yet comfortable ambiance in The Barn that allows members and their guests to feel welcome and pampered. Building upon the existing bone-white cups, saucers and round plates in the Monaco pattern of Steelite International, Mandy Elgin of Cleveland’s S.S. Kemp & Co. recommended that the club add color in the form of Steelite’s striking blue 12-inch square plate, which has a rippling design similar to the pond outside the picture windows and picks up the blue from the plaid carpeting. Two other square plates help minimize the room’s vanilla look and make a modern design statement.

Elgin recommended limiting the glassware service to three items, which include the eye-arresting 16-ounce blue Charisma goblet; the 12-ounce Teardrop wine glass by Libbey, which also provided the salt and pepper shakers; and Judel’s Quartz 8-ounce optic rocks glass. Oneida’s Baguette flatware completes the table service. The club sought out the accents that separate it from other country clubs and achieved their goal of a “modern, subtle yet classy” service, Elgin recalls.

With the able assistance of inside salesperson Caroline Clarke, Elgin reviewed the menu with the club’s chef and began collecting options from numerous manufacturers. The net result was an eye-catching table-setting that fits into the Frank Lloyd Wright-style architectural setting while still allowing the food to remain the star. “[Mandy] was a fabulous sounding board for our ideas as well as the linchpin of the club’s upgrade,” Rosencrans says. “Further, the time, effort and responsiveness that Mandy delivered is just what an organization such as ours needs in the high-paced food and beverage business.”

Walden Golf & Tennis Club
Aurora, Ohio
Club: Country or City
Mandy Elgin, DSR with S.S. Kemp & Co., Cleveland;
Caroline Clarke, inside salesperson, S.S. Kemp;
Rob Rosencrans, managing partner of Walden Golf & Tennis Club
Winning Elements

Chinaware: Steelite International (Riven Blue 12-in. square dinner plate, Metro 9-in. white square plate, Monaco white cups, saucers, bowl and 6-in. plate); Oneida (Fusion 9-in. square plate)

Glassware: Libbey (Charisma 16-oz. blue goblet, Teardrop 12-oz. wine); Judel (Quartz 8-oz. optic rocks)

Flatware: Oneida (Baguette)

Accessories: Libbey (Winchester tower salt & pepper shakers); Diversified Ceramics (au gratins, 12-oz., bright white)

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