“One of the first things our guests notice about Off The Bone Gastro Pub is the staff” comments James Sullivan, CEO of Great National Hotels’ management division. “More specifically, there’s a palpable, genuine motivation and interest in making each and every guest feel welcome and at home in what has since proven to be one of Limerick’s - if not Munster’s - most popular eateries.” - James Sullivan, CEO GN Asset Management
Located in Limerick’s landmark Great National South Court Hotel, Off The Bone Gastro Pub was conceived following extensive research into local preferences and emerging trends in not just food and drink service but also entertainment. Great National itself was established in 2010 and now comprises 60 4-star and 3-star deluxe properties throughout Ireland and U.K.; the brand is also ranked as one Europe’s fastest growing hospitality chains. The South Court is one of 8 hotels owned by Great National and managed by GN Asset Management. Off The Bone Limerick is the first in a series of locations which will break cover in the coming 12 months as part of the Great Nite Inn franchise, a budget boutique brand also owned and operated by Great National scheduled for roll-out in an initial 5 properties in Ireland followed by additional locations in the UK. Sullivan is therefore delighted to discuss the background and more importantly the impact Off The Bone has had in terms of the South Court business including pipeline opportunities for the gastro-pub brand.
“Limerick opened its doors in November 2016 and had a significant business impact from the get-go both as a separate strategic revenue centre within the South Court in addition to the hotel itself. Essentially, not only have we significantly enhanced the overall experience of our in-house guests by providing a superior yet well priced and engaging F&B experience, we have also managed to re-energise local demand from surrounding neighbourhoods and areas adjacent to the South Court.” “This really is the ideal outcome for us and indeed any hotel wishing to appeal to both guests and locals alike. Particularly as Off The Bone has not only increased turnover 5-fold but it also enabled us to drive average booking values and residential guest discretionary spend” added Sullivan. As to the secret of Off The Bone’s success, Sullivan further explained that this is based around a number of key pillars within the overall brand concept, central to which is the ease with which Off The Bone can be replicated in other locations, be it as a stand-alone food and beverage business or indeed as part of a wider hotel operation.
“Off The Bone is essentially a gastro-pub, the underlying tenet to which is ‘Farm Fresh, Ocean Fresh, Market Fresh’. With an emphasis on origin and a passion for freshness from farm to fork, this means that everything we source is the very best of produce so as to compile a unique, almost artisan menu experience which incidentally extends to our choice of signature wines, speciality spirits and craft beers.” “In what is a value sensitive market, pricing is key too. For example our Saturday evening ‘Supper Club’ which is unique to Off The Bone, costs just €35 per person and includes a pre dinner drink, a delicious four-course dinner, and a ½ bottle of wine per person followed by live local entertainment.” It is clear too that careful consideration has been given to the interior design and feel of Off The Bone which has blended a mix of classic and contemporary styles, offering a spacious, relaxed environment with strong branding throughout including exterior signage. On this point Sullivan added, “aside from merchandising and social media, the signage being truthful was probably our most effective marketing investment: given the volume of traffic passing the South Court, it was obvious that our choice of signs should be impactful whilst also enabling us to accelerate the re-positioning of the bar/restaurant. So much so that we installed the signage well in advance of the opening date in November so as to create initial awareness.” Looking forward, Sullivan outlined further Off The Bone locations which have been ear-marked for 2017/18 and these include Galway, Cork, Athlone, Shannon and Tullamore: “our ‘ground-up’ approach to developing the brand was deliberate in that it has allowed us to create a template solution which is highly agile and can be replicated easily and quickly elsewhere without significant CAPEX investment whilst still delivering a transformative brand experience, both in respect of the business itself and its customers.” “We’re very excited about the programme for roll-out particularly as we’ve received a number of unsolicited trade enquiries from non-Great National properties to purchase an area franchise for Off The Bone.” One to watch so, in the meantime it certainly seems that Off The Bone is well and truly raising the bar when it comes to hotel restaurants.