ROOF on theWitNovember 17, 2011
Hotel Bar of the Year Engry
Name of Bar: ROOF on theWit
Ownership/Parent Company: theWit Hotel / DoubleTree by Hilton
Square Footage: 7,000
Open Date: May 28, 2009
If ambiance alone were the deciding factor, ROOF would be a strong contender for Hotel Bar of the Year based on its dramatic setting with interior and exterior seating areas on the 27th floor of theWit Hotel in Chicago. Fire pits blaze beneath glass bars, bottle service is delivered via sparklers and a panoramic view stretches from the Chicago River and Marina Towers, down State Street to Millennium Park, providing a stunning backdrop for cocktails and small plates. The intimate Hangover space boasts VIP seating unmatched in the city while a chic indoor lounge offers an exclusive space to mingle with Chicago’s social set. After two and a half years, ROOF continues to surprise and delight consumers with unique programming, a highly-trained and engaging staff, as well as delicious and carefully curated food and cocktails, earning acclaim such as “one of three top rooftop lounges in the world,” by Travel & Leisure magazine.
In April 2011, ROOF launched its own YouTube channel in order to promote its wide range of programming. In the past seven months, ROOF has amassed over 17,500 views of its video promotional segments and vignettes, including the first major campaign initiative, the launch of a Sunday day party. Until this point, ROOF was not open on Sunday, but noting the popularity of day parties in New York, Miami and Las Vegas, there was an unmet need in the Chicago marketplace. So, ROOF Sundays: A Daytime Affair, was launched in May 2011 with promotional partner, Patrón. This summertime Sunday day party was described by UrbanDaddy as a “bash starting at 11 a.m. with special cocktails, high-energy DJs and waitresses wearing ballet tutus.”
In addition, programming featured live music, such as violinist Katarina, go-go dancers, break dancers and fun giveaways such as sky blue ROOF beach towels. The menu featured chorizo goat cheese quiche, beignets with chicory espresso mousse, fish tacos, watermelon and feta salad, a variety of gourmet flatbreads from the wood-burning oven and sweets such as a horchata snow cone and Tamarind lime Italian ice. Promotional partner, Patrón was integrated into the menu with food items such as grilled Patrón-soaked shrimp and Patrón XO Jittery Monkey Blondies as well as pitchers like the El Durazno which is made with Patrón Anejo, Agave, Lime and Peach Nectar. Patrón also provided the bright purple, blue and berry-colored tank tops and neon sunglasses that the wait staff donned with short, black tutus for a vibrant and whimsical atmosphere. ROOF generated an additional $25,000 - $40,000 each Sunday and within weeks, there were several other area venues adding day programming on Sundays as well.
In addition to providing energy to an expressive atmosphere, the staff at ROOF receives in-depth customer service training since they are the connection to our customers. One of the most important aspects of this training incorporates listening and providing feedback to the general manager, executive chef and marketing and operations teams. These findings often guide programming, menu and beverage offerings in order to meet the needs and desires of our on-site, as well as online customer base. One response to this on-site feedback was the creation of several ROOF Runway events. ROOF Runway: An Astro Affair was a singles event featuring fashions by local fashion house, Akira, with an astrological theme. Digital promotion of the event via ROOF’s SMS text outreach, eBlasts and a custom Facebook event page garnered over 400 RSVPs for the event within three days. This event, and similar ROOF Runway shows have put the venue at capacity during slower days at non-peak hours. AKIRA RUNWAY SHOW
The ROOF staff also engages with CRM efforts online, by periodically participating in social media outreach and contents. For example, ROOF launched “Ask For Me,” a parody of the wildly popular viral success of the NFL “Pick Me” vignettes which feature ordinary athletes performing extraordinary feats. In the ROOF series, our doormen, servers and bartenders perform extraordinary acts of customer service and close each segment encouraging patrons to come to ROOF and ask for them, specifically. The most entertaining video via online voting, received a cash prize. This effort lifted employee morale during the off-season in addition to providing a connection point for ROOF customers. It also garnered a national “Best Use of Social Media” award by parent company, DoubleTree By Hilton.
In addition to customer service, the ROOF staff is well-trained on products and is able to confidently answer questions, make suggestions and compare and contrast products appropriately. It’s this advanced knowledge of each individual portfolio that not only elevates service standards but also postitions ROOF as one of the Top 5 bars in Chicago for sales of Dom Pérignon, specifically.
The depth of experience enables ROOF staff members to be relatively “quick studies,” when the situation calls for it. When Virgin America decided to host its launch party at ROOF and brought in Sir Richard Branson’s wines, the staff was quickly trained and adept at describing and comparing the Virgin portfolio of hand-crafted, international wines to the celebrity guests in attendance, including Adrian Grenier and Jenna Dewan. Further, ROOF had custom outfits designed by California Christiana Republic fashion house, in a flight attendant motif, for the event. The team at Virgin America was so pleased with the level of detail, they provided support for a “Get some Tail” on ROOF with Virgin America social media contest that sent four lucky winners to London.
Executive Chef of theWit, Evan Percoco, guides the menu at ROOF which changes to incorporate seasonal ingredients. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Percoco has been lauded with an array of awards including being the Executive Chef of “Best New Restaurant,” “Best Italian Restaurant” in Chicago and was featured at the James Beard House. The Chef-driven menu has led to an increase of overall food sales from 6% in 2010 to 17% of overall sales in 2011. Some of the top selling items from the spring/summer menu include a seafood platter with oysters, Togorashi tuna, Patrón soaked shrimp, with spicy tuna tartar as well as frozen peanut butter bon-bons with strawberry jelly. Inspirations for the fall/winter menu include a yellow fin tuna poke with avocado mango salsa, crispy wonton and sweet soy glaze, which has already become a crowd-pleaser as Chicagoans become subject to colder climates.
It begins with a fascinating design, but ROOF at theWit truly becomes an escape and entertaining experience through the care and commitment of its staff. Everyone on the team is given a voice and opportunity to impact the direction of this very special venue. The team continues to deliver excellent customer service, a superior food and beverage product and engaging entertainment and programming. This combination, as well as the extended hours, has led ROOF on theWit to a 12% gain in annual sales. By the end of 2011, ROOF expects to generate close to $12,000,000 in annual revenue. And, in 2012, expect more exciting structural, design and programming changes to keep ROOF on the forefront of the industry.