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Sun, April 18

Yavapai Lodge gets a makeover with a modern twist

Christopher Sawyer bartends at the new Yavapai Tavern. Loretta Yeiran/WGCN

Christopher Sawyer bartends at the new Yavapai Tavern. Loretta Yeiran/WGCN

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - State of the art food service is what Yavapai Lodge's new restaurant, Café and tavern is offering guests these days.

The lodge, located on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, recently opened a new restaurant and café in June, followed by a new tavern on July 3.

The facility, originally offering traditional cafeteria food and services, has been transformed into a high tech dining facility, complete with automated ordering kiosks that allow you to customize individual orders, professional food preparation that you can observe as its being made and a healthy selection of locally brewed beers on tap.

In addition to the new dining and beverage area, the lodge has a new lobby and front desk area that adjoins its souvenir and gift shop.

John Howard, director of food and beverage with Delaware North, the concessionaire operating the Yavapai Lodge, restaurant, café and tavern, said the company is happy with the outcome and the response to the new facilities and said staff will continue to fine-tuning all operations at the establishment.

"We've been open less than three weeks, so as we see something that works better than when we opened - that's the beauty of being young, you (can) make the switch," he said.

Howard said being able to place an order at the kiosks, helps cut down on lines or wait times and offers customers the chance to customize the entrée and pay for it all at once.

For those wanting a more personalized experience, a cashier is available.

The ordering kiosks have ordering capabilities in seven different languages and most items cost between $6 to $15.

After an order is placed and paid for, a number is issued and customers are able to watch their food being prepared or they can visit the soup and/or salad bar while they wait.

According to Howard, the average wait time is around eight minutes, which is significantly less time than other restaurants that prepare customized orders.

"The concept here, by Delaware North is some high tech ordering, where you order and pay in the beginning," Howard said.

The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and includes both hot and cold sandwiches, pizza - whole or by the slice, soups, salads, chicken, rib and steak dinners, a variety of kids meals, desserts and both a continental and full hot breakfasts.

The café offers a variety of grab and go items and prepares coffee and other beverages and has a seating area as well.

Yavapai Tavern offers a selection of locally brewed beers on tap as well as traditional beer selections. A complete wine list and cocktails are also available.

"We have 12 beers on tap and we went really local with it," Howard said. "We have Historic Brewing out of Flagstaff, Lumberyard out of Flagstaff and others...we have a lot of local breweries involved in this. People really are loyal to the local breweries."

The restaurant can seat up to 300 people and offers a semi-private area with a sectioned off side room on one side and a glass atrium section on the other.

The atrium, built with clear glass paneling, allows natural lighting to filter through the room. In the future, the lodge would like to offer the atrium as a place to hold special events.

"We have separate sections in case people want to come in for semi-private functions," Howard said.

Over the summer, the restaurant is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., the tavern is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and the café is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day.

According to Howard, this fall, Delaware North plans to open an outside patio area next to the tavern, which will allow for outside dining and will feature a fire pit.

"This is the fun part, opening up brand new operations," Howard said. "A lot of the design and system we tried to incorporate, we thought about what is best for the guests at the park. If you take care of your guests and take care of your employees - you're going to run a great business."

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