Resorts Casino Hotel aims to give customers a quality experience by exceeding their expectations with food and service offerings.
In 1978, Resorts Casino Hotel became the first casino in the United States located outside of Las Vegas. In 2010, Morris Bailey purchased the Atlantic City-based company and hired a new leadership team in an effort to reinvigorate and re-energize the property.
“When Bailey purchased the company, it had been in bad financial shape for some time,” Vice President of Food & Beverage Edward Batten says. “I was a part of the new team hired. We looked at everything from the finances to the product we were serving, including food and customer service, to turn this casino into a top-notch destination.”
Today, Resorts Casino Hotel is thriving and Batten cites its employees as a key differentiator from its competitors.
“I’ve worked in other casinos in the market and this property completely impressed me with the employees that were here, including the line staff,” he explains. “I was very impressed with how friendly they were, how genuinely hospitable they were and their sense of servitude. When you’re in the service industry, it’s not for everyone. You have to be humble and have a service-oriented philosophy and mindset – not everyone has that.”
Batten notes that there are companies that “strive every day” to produce what Resorts Casino Hotel does organically. “They have to implement initiatives to get employees to say ‘hello’ or be friendly to guests,” he says. “That’s organic here and customers notice that. We always hear about two things at our property: how clean and safe it is, and also about the quality of our employees themselves. They are always friendly, upbeat and positive.”
Resorts Casino Hotel has several restaurants that cater to not only traditional, but also eclectic palates. “We have a nice cross section of what we call ‘product assets,’” Batten says. “Capriccio serves Italian gourmet. If you look on Trip Advisor, it is the No. 1 restaurant in all of Atlantic City, outranking all of the famous celebrity chef restaurants. It’s also unique because it was the first gourmet restaurant built in Atlantic City and it’s the longest-running restaurant in a casino in Atlantic City, too.”
Breadsticks Café, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, is currently No. 7 on Trip Advisor. “If I ever close that restaurant I probably would have to leave the state,” Batten says, chuckling. “Our customers love Cappricio because it’s special, but Breadsticks feeds the masses.
“EastWind is our noodle bar that serves Asian and domestic customers,” he continues. “So the menu consists of Vietnamese, mainland China and Korean specialties, amongst other traditional dishes. We try to capture the market for our Asian customers. The staff there is phenomenal and we are proud of them as well.”
Both the Paramount and Epic clubs are clubs for the company’s VIP customers. “Epic is open seven days a week and Paramount is open four days,” Batten explains. “People get to come in, eat and drink and have a good time. They can watch television and get away from the hustle and bustle of the casino. When they are re-energized, they can go back and have some more fun.”
In addition, though some hoteliers might not place an emphasis on their room service, Batten says Resorts Casino Hotel considers it gourmet dining. “We call it in-room dining, or IRD,” he says. “We send up cloth napkins and cloth tablecloths, and can make any food from any restaurant in our casino. It’s very popular and keeps us very busy.”
With its depth of service offerings, Resorts Casino Hotel aims to create a quality experience for its customers. “We take quality very seriously,” Batten says. “We change our menu in every restaurant twice a year. Some places do it three or four times a year; however, I find that to be too aggressive. With doing it twice per year, you can cover all the seasons and we can take advantage of the Jersey fresh concepts that are here in Atlantic City that we are so well known for. We even have a rooftop garden where we plant various herbs, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and other vegetables and then serve them in our restaurants.”
Batten was a chef for 35 years and then moved into running Resorts Casino Hotel’s food and beverage division in 2010. Today, he mentors many of the company’s chefs. “We are very conscientious about current trends and seasonal items,” he says. “For example, we do not serve dishes that are out of season. When it’s time for us to come up with menus, we employ a tactic called ‘menu engineering.’
“It is very comprehensive and allows us to take an in-depth look at our menu items,” he continues. “So we can see what sold and what didn’t, and see what things are positioned on the menu incorrectly. For instance, maybe it’s something on the menu that has a high profit margin but doesn’t sell.”
Batten also challenges chefs to be creative during this process. “For example, I’ll say we should offer a few specials and challenge them to think outside of the box,” he explains. “Then we will take that special and make it a feature menu item. So we use the specials as a beta test and find out if this new item is a win with customers.
“We always try to provide surprise and delight so that we can exceed customer expectations at every service point,” he adds. “We treat them like kings and queens. I always try to get my team to look through the lens of the guest. If we can do that, we will be successful.”
Working As One
Batten notes that he is only as good as his team, which is why he fosters a “symbiotic relationship” between front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house staff. “Everyone works together here,” he says. “There’s no competition as we are all one team. Do they have different challenges? Certainly. However, if you get a team to work together it is a win-win across the board and there is no greater feeling.
“I’m most proud of my team. My philosophy is to hire people that are as smart, as creative and as passionate as I am or better,” he adds. “So I want to surround myself with people who are at a minimum as good as me or better. That’s a team and I want to be around the best team so we can work forward together.”
As his team works as one, the goal is to keep the customer as a priority, which makes for a very customer-focused culture, according to Batten. “We live and breathe it everyday,” he says. “It’s not about us, but the guest coming through the door. They are not a burden to us as they are the reason we are here. They want to come here and escape from problems at work, home or any other challenges they are having in their life. We want them to come here enjoy themselves, ultimately giving them a simply great experience.”