When it comes to in-room dining, Revel Atlantic City is playing a hand that’s paying off in spades. The 1,400- room resort and casino features an in-room dining kitchen equal in size to its banquet kitchen, butlers for the property’s VIP guests, and state-of-the-art delivery carts to make sure hot food arrives hot.
Revel created the program—described by one satisfied guest as “a hidden gem with extraordinary attention to detail”—with multiple goals in mind.
“We wanted to make the in-room dining program efficient, with fast service, easy-to-understand menus and ordering, reasonable prices, and great food that’s freshly prepared and delivered within 30 minutes,” says Revel VP of F&B Jeanette Sherman, who, along with Executive Chef Fabian Ludwig, joined the property in the spring of 2011, a year before Revel’s grand opening in May 2012.
“We don’t promise anything we can’t deliver,” Sherman adds. “We’re part of an entertainment company, and in-room dining represents the brand as does everything else we do at Revel.”
Signature Revel touches include drinks mixed in crystal carafes and poured “bedside,” housemade jams and jellies served at breakfast, and sauces and dressings added tableside by the server.
Revel’s focus on perfecting its in-room dining program “helps build guest loyalty and speaks to the integrity of our brand as a destination resort with an immersive entertainment value,” Sherman says.
“People who order room service want to unwind, to be spoiled, and to enjoy the ultimate in relaxation,” Sherman says.
Revel’s menu philosophy is simple: “Food needs to be simple, fresh, and fun,” Chef Ludwig says. “We won’t attempt to cook Michelin-star quality food for in-room dining, but rather star-quality food.”
Guests can view the in-room dining menu via Android tablets featured in every room. The tablets also provide access to a digital resort directory and Internet browser. Although dining orders still need to be phoned in to the operator, the digital menu permits easy updates throughout the entire property. It also saves on printing and replacement costs.
To meet the 30-minute order-todelivery goal, menu items generally call for no more than four components per dish, including the garnish, “which must be edible,” Chef Ludwig adds. Upping the challenge is the fact that about 90 percent of the menu is not pre-cooked. “We don’t pre-grill meats or pre-boil vegetables; 90% of all our ingredients are being cooked as soon as the order is placed with the order taker,” Ludwig explains.
Revel’s in-room dining menu covers tried-and-true standards, but it’s got plenty to please more adventurous palates as well. Fancier offerings include tuna tartare with yuzu and avocado, lobster ceviche, artisanal breads and pizzas, and flourless chocolate cake with salted caramel sauce, to name a few. A late-night menu, a full bar menu, and a selection of party platters all ensure there’s something for everyone.
Revel purposefully kept its in-room dining menu prices relatively affordable. Check averages hover at about $30 for breakfast, the low $40s for lunch, and $80 to $125 for dinner.
“Our room service menu prices are a good 30% lower than comparable hotels in New York,” say Sherman and Ludwig, who both served at New York’s Marriott Marquis in Times Square before joining Revel.
“We aim for volume instead, and we’re definitely seeing that,” Ludwig adds.
Revel’s in-room dining kitchen is a major enterprise, operating around the clock. The kitchen covers 7,419 square feet—roughly the same size as the main banquet kitchen on the opposite side of the property—and is staffed by 14 to 21 full-time cooks, stewards, and culinary professionals. The kitchen layout was designed by JEM Associates of Pleasantville, New Jersey.
A typical day’s bedside delivery order count ranges from 700 to 1,000 covers, including an average of about 400 breakfasts, 150 lunches, and 350 dinners. The kitchen also supplies food for the 44th-floor Concierge Lounge, one butler pantry, and 13 cabanas.
The cookline is anchored by a flattop grill, broiler, steamer, tilting skillet, and fryers. Other kitchen areas include a pastry shop, cold prep room (chilled to a constant 38°F), prep area, garde manger, production kitchen, and warewashing. Passthrough windows from the salad and pastry areas add speed when it comes to assembling orders for room service.
As for dry and cold storage, only minimal space was allotted. “Vendors deliver five times a week so food stays as fresh as possible,” Chef Ludwig notes.
Revel’s hot-food-hot delivery promise is kept by a fleet of about 200 electric hotboxes. The units can be pre-heated to 165°F by plugging them into a central plug set. The compact three-shelf hotboxes, which fit neatly under service carts, feature insulated construction that keeps plated food at just-cooked temperatures as it travels from kitchen to guest room. Upon returning the hotboxes to the kitchen, staff plug them in again to return them to 165°F. Unheated, the boxes’ insulated sides let them do doubleduty for cold food delivery as well.
Prompt cart retrieval is just as important as delivery. “We ask guests to let us know when they’re finished,” Chef Ludwig says. “We also have our phone operators call back to see if the guests enjoyed the meal and are ready for cart pickup. We keep close tabs on the carts’ whereabouts—shift managers aren’t allowed to leave until all their carts have been returned.”
Janice Cha has covered the foodservice industry for more than a decade, focusing on kitchen equipment for the past several years.