More to Crave in Room Service
Sacramento's Citizen Hotel focuses on guests who nest.
For luxury properties such as The Citizen Hotel in Sacramento, in-room dining is here to stay, but that doesn’t mean it must be a mere carbon copy of what’s offered at other hotels or even what’s on the menu in The Citizen’s own popular, elevated restaurant.
The hotel, part of the Autograph Collection, presents modern luxury in a 1926 building, and promises guests “unexpected elegance.” Delivering on that pledge on the F&B front is Grange Restaurant & Bar, which, like many of today’s hotel restaurants, tries not to be a hotel restaurant, but rather a local eatery that happens to be in The Citizen, says Executive Chef Oliver Ridgeway. And, yet, while locals may like to think of Grange as its own animal, groups and guests in the hotel’s 200 rooms definitely want to think of it as The Citizen’s F&B identity.
“More often than not, we found we were delivering the restaurant menu to the room,” says Ridgeway. “It’s easy for the line; you’re cooking food that you’re already cooking. Now we promote and encourage that.”
Here’s where the “unexpected elegance” slides in. Instead of simply delivering a meal straight from the in-restaurant menu, The Citizen got creative. Sure, Grange offers a good club sandwich and a Caesar salad for the less adventurous traveler, along with other more interesting items, but the team wanted to make room service “a bit more craveable,” says Ridgeway.
And so was born the Capitol Cravings menu, launched in June, featuring large-format meals in-room. Take, for example, the Burger & Bucket, which is $28 for a Grange Burger with lettuce, red onion, and aioli; house fries; and a bucket of three local beers. “You get to try some of the local brews and get a good hamburger,” says Ridgeway. “It’s exciting.”
In developing the Capitol Cravings lineup, Ridgeway thought about other things guests may want, whether traveling alone or with others. “That’s how the Cake & Cap came up; sometimes you just want a nice cake and a nightcap, so we offer that in a package.” It includes a piece of the chef’s seasonal cake of the moment with cappuccino, for $12.
On the top end of the price dynamic of the Capitol Cravings menu is the Bird & Bottle, at $80, but it serves two with a whole roast Mary’s chicken, a bottle of Boeger Grange Blend red wine, a chef’s choice salad, and two seasonal sides.
“There’s nothing like a perfectly roasted chicken with some sides and a good bottle of wine you can share with your guests in the room,” Ridgeway posits. “It feels like more of an occasion instead of just a necessity.”
That covers the weary late-arrivers. For the bleary-eyed breakfast set are the Benedict & Bloody ($24), including a Grange Benedict, home fries, and a Grange Bloody Mary; and Brunch & Bubbles ($65, offered only on weekends), featuring a pastry basket, fresh fruit, a bottle of bubbly, a carafe of orange juice, and a pot of coffee.
Creation of these meal packages was challenging for Ridgeway’s team, particularly in selecting beers, given the immense brewery scene in Sacramento. Curating brews that represent the area, he says, is tough. But pairing the bucket with a burger was the easy part, since the Grange burger has done well in the restaurant.
“We’ve isolated it down to what works for the moment,” Ridgeway says. “As we watch sales, maybe we’ll change it. We’re very fortunate here, with all of our menus. We don’t release a Spring menu or Summer menu. It’s just a menu that evolves.”
One thing that reflects seasonal flavors is the cake. “Chocolate is always a winner for most people, and we were doing a chocolate and cherry cake a few weeks ago. Cherries have gone out, so we’re moving into raspberries, which is an abundant berry here at the moment.”
The sides for the roast chicken derive from the ever-changing sides offered at Grange. It’s just a matter of informing the guest of the current options when he or she calls to order.
“At the moment, we’ve got a nice Mexican street corn and some fantastic shishito peppers that we’re blistering with lemon,” Ridgeway says. “The descriptions on the menu allow us to dictate changes without reprinting. It’ll say ‘seasonal sides’ or ‘cake’ without being specific.”
The Burger & Bucket and Cake & Cap are the top sellers overall. “I think people want a bit of decadent cake at the end of the night,” says Ridgeway, who believes the pricing of the meal packages is just right for guests.
“It’s doable [for the guest] financially,” he says. “If you start a la carte-ing beer and food and delivery charges, it can get pricey. The one-stop shop we’re doing is pretty reasonable. The pricing is done on what we’re paying, but without gouging. It’s premium product, done well.”
Ridgeway hasn’t seen much difference in cost between the Capitol Cravings offerings and a regular room service program, “because of our restaurant concept and the abundance of premium, fresh product,” he says. “It’s just in the way we prepare it. Most of the product we’re getting anyway.”
The goal isn’t revenue, says Ridgeway; it’s garnering guest satisfaction and a reason to book again.
Fill Your Fridge
In addition to the one-off meals of the Capitol Cravings menu, The Citizen wanted to excite guests with something more appealing than a minibar of mass-market snacks.
“We have mini-fridges, and we used to pack them full of the miniature bottles and everything,” Ridgeway explains. “That wasn’t smart; you’re keeping a fridge full of things that expire and don’t always get used. You have to manage it. You have to keep an inventory. If it doesn’t sell, you’re giving it away in the cafeteria. That didn’t make sense, but we still had the fridges.”
“You want to create variety for the guest,” says Citizen GM David Shipman. “This menu is trying to emphasize what Sacramento is about, utilizing homegrown products. We wanted to do something unique for the Citizen and the guests we saw coming in for the new Golden One Arena for concerts. Guests are spending more time in their rooms and wanting a different experience.”
Now, two Fill Your Fridge packages bring the city to the room. The Sacramento Pub Crawl ($65) showcases the city’s craft brewing culture, with a variety of eight beers from six different brewers in the guest room’s mini-fridge upon order. While the curated collection rotates often, guests can expect to see select brews from Track 7 Brewing Company, Ruhstaller, Device Brewing Company, Rubicon Brewing Company, Knee Deep Brewing Company, and Hemly Cider. The Sacramento Sampler ($125) is full of treats to enjoy throughout the guest’s stay—or to throw into their suitcase as mementos.
It’s themed as a “best of” Sacramento foodstuffs, including Midtown Jerky Co., Blue Diamond Almonds, Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates, Bariani Olive Oil & Vinegar, Carmazzi Caramel Corn, Bella Bru Bakery, Andy’s Candies, Preservation & Company Bloody Mary Mix, and Capitol Sriracha, all complemented by Grange’s housemade seasonal jam, pickled vegetables, and candied bacon, and washed down with Track 7 Brewing Company and Can-Can Cocktails.
The guest may order a package before the stay, to be loaded into the fridge. As with Capitol Cravings, the Fill Your Fridge program isn’t designed to be a profit center.
“We’re still in the relative infancy of it and haven’t necessarily tracked it from a revenue perspective, but for guest satisfaction, it’s been very well received; we get a lot of favorable comments,” Shipman reports. “Ultimately it’s not a revenue driver for us; it’s to create something more experiential for the guest who may not have been exposed to what Sacramento has to offer."