Renee Martin is ready.
The new operations supervisor of the cafes and Plaza Market around Bestor Plaza throws off sparks of energy when she talks about her new position.
“I’ve had a lot of experience in various facets of the hospitality business,” Martin said during a rare break in preparations for another busy season in the Brick Walk Cafe. “I have owned and operated a bar/restaurant and worked for a number of years in the corporate world. It’s different here in Chautauqua. There is such a strong sense of family and tradition. My impression is that this is a place of fundamental values.”
Martin is committed to the Institution’s priorities of service and positive guest experience.
“I feel that I have a good opportunity in this position to build on what was accomplished last year and move things ahead with positive change,” she said.
Martin oversees the Brick Walk Cafe, Afterwords Café, the Plaza Market and the café at Fowler-Kellogg Art Center.
She has jumped right in and implemented a change in perhaps the most noticeable area of her entire operation: Perennially popular ice cream will be sold differently at the Brick Walk Cafe this season.
“We are going to change the way people line up for ice cream at busy times at the Brick Walk Cafe,” Martin said.
The plan is for customers to line up through the main front door of the cafe and place their order, paying at a terminal at the head of the ice cream counter, which will feature 24 flavors. A display board outside will announce the flavors available on a given day.
The attendant who takes the order will move to fill the order personally. Martin said there is room for as many as seven attendants behind the reworked counter, and the new plan should facilitate customer flow through the area. There is a greater selection of cones available, and customers will be free to choose their own as they pass along in front of the counter.
Martin also said the Brick Walk Cafe will be offering a different single-origin coffee each week. Jamestown’s Crown Street Roasting Company will be a partner this year. An Ethiopian coffee is featured during Week One.
A believer in careful training and development of her employees, Martin brought in cafe managers beginning in March, and some of her nearly 100 staff members have been working in the various venues since Memorial Day.
“I like to set up a predictable system and give employees a chance to get accustomed to it before we go live when the season really starts,” she said.
Having first seen the Institution 20 years ago on a bus tour for donors to a public radio station in Pittsburgh, Martin returned to the area to help open the Olive Garden restaurant on Fairmont Avenue in Lakewood. She and her husband live on Lake Erie west of Westfield.