Exeter approve deal to stage Reading Country Club events

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Exeter Township Supervisors voted 4-1 on Monday to agree a three-year deal with Reading Hospitality Management to host events at Reading Country Club. The company is affiliated with the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Reading.

The agreement calls for the township to receive 25% of sales for an event serving alcohol and 15% of sales for an event that does not.

RHM said basing payments on a percentage of sales provides an incentive to generate more revenue and produce more event bookings.

Supervisor David Hughes voted against the deal, and he and about 10 of his supporters voted against it at the meeting.

Hughes complained about not being involved in the decision-making process and said it was only a temporary fix that would cost the township millions of dollars. He said he wanted to know more about Brown Golf Management of Camp Hill, which had submitted a club management proposal that supervisors rejected.

The other supervisors denied Hughes’ claims that they had excluded him from negotiations.

The main complaints from Hughes supporters at the meeting were that the township had to pay for liquor services and property maintenance.

Board Vice Chairman Ted Gardella said the township was now paying utility bills for the building and the two management proposals that were rejected would have required the same.

“We’re going to pay the utilities no matter who picks up the slack,” Gardella said.

DoubleTree executives made a presentation at the meeting to explain their intentions.

Hotel president Craig Poole said there was demand for more event venues in the area.

“We are running out of space for banquets,” he said. “Refusing businesses. We want to keep him in Berks County.

Board chairman George Bell agreed, saying: “It (the club) has been vacant for five years. Now is the time to give it back to the people.

A six-year plan for the club shows 2023 sales of $500,000, of which the township would receive $125,000, gradually increasing each year until 2028, when sales of around $2 million will net the township $500,000. $. The numbers are an educated guess based on the experiences of the RHM team.

The township will remain in charge of golf and clubhouse operations, with its own liquor and food license, but will receive direction from RHM.

There are no plans yet to reopen the club’s first-floor restaurant, but RHM said it could be operational in 2024 and generate an additional $2 million or more a year in gross revenue.

RHM officials said the company had an interest in operating the restaurant, but decided it would be better to focus on generating immediate income by hosting events in the upstairs ballroom rather than d incur the additional cost of repairing the first floor space at the same time.

The company wants time to better understand what the community wants in a restaurant to better ensure its success and avoid the mistakes of past failures.

DoubleTree officials noted that a key issue is regaining community trust in a location that has been vacant and inactive for five years. The company plans to employ the same strategies it used to win over the community at its Reading hotel.

The highest revenue is expected to come from weddings, but RHM said it will host community events at the site as well as events on select holidays, as well as Sunday brunches and themed buffet nights.

There are plans to create dining experiences at pop-up restaurants and unique corporate golf packages that include complimentary round-trip group transportation from the hotel property to the club and a premium networking and dining experience. range.

RHM officials noted that the township will benefit from DoubleTree’s skilled in-house marketing team, sales staff and event managers.

Financial projections do not include revenue from the Snack Shack and Cart Cooler Storage, which is solely owned by the Township of Exeter will continue to operate the Snack Shack, but RHM will assist with the purchase to reduce costs.

The company has already held a hiring event at the club and is planning a community food truck event in October.

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