It’s too bad restaurant operators are shut out of the country club market. Wealthy golfers drop a bundle of money on meals when they play, particularly lunch. So it’s no wonder the clubs keep this profit center to themselves. But now the top golf instructor in the country is opening a restaurant that shows chefs and restaurateurs a way they might get in on the action. Its name: Fitness Fare Café.
We’re not sure of the exact connection between golf swing mechanics and a pristine dietary regimen—it’s never stopped John Daly—but PGA golf instructor Jim McLean thinks it will help his students lower their scores. His 52-seat restaurant, located at the Jim McLean Golf Center-Texas in Fort Worth, features well-balanced nutritious meals and smoothies. The chef is Eric Tonips, who also is the home clubhouse chef for the Texas Rangers.
Here’s the key: Fitness Fare cafe only serves lunch (the hours are 11 a.m to 4 p.m.)—prime time in the golf instruction business—and is open to the public. Tonips’ menu offers wraps, burgers, other hot and cold sandwiches and smoothies. It sounds like standard golf course snack bar fare, but the chef-driven aspect is that Fitness Fare’s versions of these items provide healthful, nutritious meals. The difference-makers: careful attention to ingredients and preparation techniques. The idea is to give the golf crowd a no-brainer way to order nutritious meals.
Jim McLean Golf Centers are a huge name in the golf industry, with branches at destination-class golf resorts around the country. If this approach to healthy dining becomes popular among golfers, it could lead to brand extension opportunities for many restaurants and/or part-time work or menu consulting gigs for chefs in similar non-country club settings.
Think about it. We’ve already seen the impact Arnold Palmer’s half-lemonade-half-iced-tea concoction has had in the beverage industry and on restaurant beverage options. What if Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson gets on the healthy eating train with McLean?