1711 by Ascot – a joint venture between Ascot Racecourse and Sodexo Sport & Leisure – is catering at this week’s five-day Royal Ascot horse racing festival (15-19 June) for crowds of up to 12,000 a day as part of the government’s Events Research Programme.
But while that is a fifth of crowd sizes in previous years, and racegoers are dining on menus from Michelin-starred chefs and buying refreshments via a new mobile phone app, it offers challenges to the provider as it delivers fine dining and hospitality in both the Royal Enclosure and Queen Anne Enclosure.
The firm is innovating to deliver a Covid-safe experience while ensuring that the world-class food and service people have come to expect remains the same. This year’s renowned chefs on restaurants at the course include the Panoramic Restaurant by Raymond Blanc OBE, the Wolferton by Ollie Dabbous, ON 5 by Simon Rogan and the Rick Stein Restaurant.
There is a dedicated server for each box, and everything is being brought to the server, with no other staff entering the box. This theme has been followed through to the restaurants, where a lead waiter interacts at the table including taking orders, serving food and clearing. Other safety measures include upweighted cleaning, Covid-testing for customers and staff, and training for teams on the new protocols.
Food and drink is also available for order through the Ascot Food and Drink App, which guests can download to their phone. 1711 by Ascot has also created gourmet picnic hampers to be ordered and delivered to those celebrating the festival remotely.
Chris Bray, CEO for Sodexo Sport & Leisure, said: “While this year’s Royal Ascot will be different, we will deliver our usual fantastic culinary experiences. A lot of work has gone into creating an experience that is safe, but still enjoyable and memorable. And, as it is one of the first great British summer events this year, it is really important to the industry and one the organisers hope will show confidence in the hospitality industry as it reopens.”
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