Omni’s Art of Breakfast Receives a Texas Twist
Omni La Mansión del Rio puts a San Antonio spin on the brand’s morning program.
This year is San Antonio’s 300th anniversary, and while the city celebrates its tricentennial, the Omni La Mansión del Rio on the River Walk marks a more modest milestone with its 50th birthday. It’s a hotel that’s both historic and relevant to today’s traveler and that extends to the breakfast menu at the property’s Las Canarias restaurant, which features Omni’s branded-but-flexible Art of Breakfast buffet and an evolving, Texas-themed à la carte selection.
“There’s a lot of freedom for us to localize and create a unique experience for our guests,” says Camron Woods, executive chef at the 338-room hotel. “We use core items for Art of Breakfast across all Omnis, like blueberry sausage, cage-free eggs, and Applewood smoked bacon, but we can add our own touches throughout.”
According to Devin Burns, Omni’s VP of F&B, the Art of Breakfast “combines traditional and trending breakfast items, along with chef-driven, locally sourced dishes reflective of the culture and cuisine surrounding each of our properties.”
While branded breakfast programs often can be cookie-cutter from hotel to hotel, the Art of Breakfast allows for a significant portion of the menu to be customized by location. That means in San Antonio the Art of Breakfast buffet is populated with Texas twists such as yogurt from Lucky Layla Farms in Garland, Texas; housemade chorizo and eggs; and “Texas-cut” cinnamon raisin French toast. About 80% of breakfast business at Las Canarias comes from the Art of Breakfast buffet.
But it’s the à la carte menu at Las Canarias that showcases the roots of the region. The three top-selling items are The Classic San Antonio Breakfast (housemade chorizo, cage-free eggs, refried beans, and breakfast potatoes); Roasted Anaheim Cage-Free Huevos Rancheros (crisp corn tortilla, refried beans, queso fresco, and ranchero and tomatillo salsa); and Chilaquiles à la Mexicana (cage-free eggs, Monterey jack cheese, beans, pico de gallo, and chips).
“Those three dishes move in the thousands annually,” says Edward Parker, F&B director at Omni La Mansión and its sister property across the river, Mokara Hotel & Spa, where Woods also serves as executive chef. “Our inhouse guests make up 50% of our breakfast business at Las Canarias, and we’re located right off the River Walk, so we always have that X factor of people strolling down the River Walk or meeting friends from out of town, and they’ll join us for breakfast.”
Almost all of the ingredients in those signature dishes are either made in the Las Canarias kitchen, or sourced from nearby purveyors. “Our housemade chorizo is a great example,” says Woods, who joined Omni La Mansión about two years ago from the Ranch at Laguna Beach. “It was created by a breakfast cook who’s been here for years, and it’s used throughout our menu. When I came here, the recipe was all in his head, so we’ve written it down and now we can all make it, which helps us be more consistent. Before, if he went on vacation, the chorizo recipe went with him.”
Other items made from scratch at the hotel include refried pinto beans (which take two days to make), ranchero (red) salsa, and tomatillo (green) salsa. Tortillas come from San Antonio’s legendary Sanitary Tortilla Company, which opened in 1925, and the thick Texas-cut bread for the buffet and the signature crème brûlée French Toast (topped with Texas pecans, Bananas Foster, and cream) come from a regional bread broker “that sources the best breads from multiple local bakeries for us,” says Woods.
Guests have noticed the effort and attention to authenticity, giving the breakfast high marks through inhouse surveys and OpenTable reviews for both the buffet and à la carte menu, as well as Sunday brunch, which makes up 20% of the total breakfast business at Las Canarias annually
“Because our hotel has been here for 50 years, the locals have a certain loyalty to this place the same way they do for lots of other businesses in town,” says Woods. “Since I’m relatively new here, the last thing I wanted to do was come in and ignore the history and turn everyone’s world upside down with a drastic menu change. I like to sit back and observe what people like, and what I saw was a breakfast embraced by our guests, and a breakfast that was enjoying financial stability, so I added a few small tweaks to the recipes, but I didn’t want to mess too much with a good thing.”
As for other hotels working within a branded breakfast program that might not have the culinary leeway that Art of Breakfast offers, Woods says, “Make sure you’re staying on-brand, but that you’re also searching for the best ingredients to feed your guests. There’s no reason to settle when you can always buy a better product. You can find 10 products for the same price point with the same consistency, and one of them is going to be better than the others. Just make sure you’re always on the hunt for that better product, and don’t become complacent with items that are ‘good enough.’”