Saying you’re director of food & beverage at the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado is a little like saying you’re the mayor of a small village. With nearly 20 restaurants, lounges, snack bars and other eating and drinking establishments, a bustling catering department and a discriminating guest profile, Craig Reed has his hands full. He oversees everything from pool and spa café to a five-star fine-dining room, and the latest additions to the portfolio, Ristorante del Lago (upscale, relaxed authentic Italian) and Natural Epicurean (a casual spot for wholesome, healthy, natural and organic).
It’s a lot to look after, but Reed, who has been with the resort since 1991, seems to relish the complex nature of his job. During a recent visit we asked him about the challenges of juggling it all.
RH: Guests at the Broadmoor tend to be well-traveled and informed. What are they looking for when they visit, and how have you responded to those desires?
Reed: People are eating healthier and are more conscious of what they eat. They also expect authenticity. And we have seen a shift in people wanting more regional and farm-to-table choices. Also, they don’t want to have to ask for dishes that work with special diets—they expect them to be on the menu.
RH: Clearly, Natural Epicurean was designed for guests who like to eat healthy and with some transparency.
Reed: We are using Natural Epicurean as a learning opportunity. It will bring us a new guest—people who are looking for this kind of food—and we can find out what might work in our other restaurants. We almost look at the restaurant as a focus for all things good or green. We are already buying local and organic ingredients, but doesn’t everyone say that now? When I see on a menu “whenever possible, we source the freshest ingredients,” I think “well, duh.” But it’s clear that healthy living and dining are not going away.
We wanted to make a connection with healthy living to show we are fully committed to it. But in the end, it’s a restaurant. We had to make sure it had broad appeal.
Reed: We have the land, about 5,000 square feet near the golf course, and it will probably consist mostly of vegetables and herbs. A few local farms let us know what they have available each week, but we already have too much demand and not enough supply.
RH: What kinds of product do you typically source locally?
Reed: Wagyu beef—the real deal—but we also do a good job with local lamb, chicken and pork. Game is a little harder. We are working on relationships that will supply fish, too.
RH: What kind of food are you serving at Cloud Camp, the rustic retreat in the mountains above the resort?
Reed: The foods will reflect the 1930s and 1940s—classics redefined, table-sized desserts, punch. We’ll also serve game, steaks, trout, corn on the cob. We’ll have a smokehouse.
RH: How do some of your long-time guests feel about some of the changes at the resort?
Reed: I think one of the challenges of a 96-year-old hotel is how do you move forward while still respecting the past? Demographics change, eating habits change, but people come here for the Broadmoor experience. Eight to ten years ago we got aggressive with a fresh juice program; now everyone talks about mixologists working with chefs. But take a place like the Tavern, open forever. We will never take prime rib off the menu. The Golden Bee, a pub, will always serve potpies and fish and chips. Foodies want to have that five star experience will always go to the Penrose Room. One local couple eats there every Saturday night. They enjoy the experience, and they look at the employees as friends.
The locals are a very big part of our year-round success. Each restaurant has its own market. People even drive down from Denver (about two hours away) for dinner.