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SYC Clubhouse Works

SYC Clubhouse Improvement Works

The Background

In response to essential facility related issues and needs, combined with member feedback including the 2020 and the more recent December 2022 member surveys, SYC is going to refurbish aspects of the SYC member food and beverage outlets in the main clubhouse.

This includes predominantly the Members’ Bar, Northern Podium and Members’ Harbour View.  It also includes consolidating the two kitchens at the northern end of the building, which will give us the ability to considerably enhance our menu offer, cater to the vastly increased numbers, as well as making things safer for our staff and ultimately assist with staff retention.  As part of the works, the Members’ Lounge will be reinstated to a lounge with appropriate fixtures and furnishings.

In terms of importance, as measured in both the 2020 and 2022 surveys, members rate the Food and Beverage (F&B) outlets as the second most important service we provide, behind our core boating activities.  It provides the platform to mingle with like-minded fellow members at their Club and, in addition to an enlarged and improved area, members would like an enhanced F&B offer.

Strategically, the proposed clubhouse improvement works have been earmarked in both of SYC’s latest strategic planning documents – the Plan for the Future 2021-2026 and the Plan for the Future 2023-2028.  The work is a key target in the plan, has been accepted by the members and has been foreshadowed for the past three years.

Whilst the lockdown related restrictions disrupted our momentum in 2021 and 2022, in a bid to progress members’ requests, at minimal cost and with minimal risk, we have been chipping away at small parts of the job over the past year.  These changes have included removing the airlock that once divided the Harbour View and Members’ Bar, creating the one enlarged Members’ Bar.  We have repositioned some doors as well, so the entire northern end of the clubhouse upstairs is now ‘Members and Member guests only’.  This has assisted with liquor licence compliance issues.  It has also increased our Members’ Bar indoor seating capacity by 80 seats.  We have also rebranded the former ‘Harbour View Restaurant’ to be the ‘Members’ Harbour View’.  These changes have been well received and given us positive feedback that we are on the right track.

The scope of works and member benefits

There are two main components to the scope of work. The first is essential in nature and needs to proceed in any case and, ideally, sooner rather than later.  The second component of the works comprises additions and improvements to the current facility as requested by the members.

1) The essential works:

  • Firstly, the entire northern podium requires repair, the membrane has failed, the tiles are in disarray and there is efflorescence leaching throughout and underneath the slab – it needs fixing. The current tiling and failed membrane will need to be removed. An appropriate new membrane including a perimeter hob is proposed.  As the surface finish, a ‘pod and pave’ tiling solution is proposed.
  • Secondly, the northern kitchen(s) have a range of significant work health and safety issues. Furthermore our membership has grown; we use the areas upstairs differently now and we don’t have the right equipment; a functional back-of-house space or the means to service members as they require (especially at peak times), nor as they would like. We currently have two small kitchens, only one gets used and they need to be consolidated which is what is being proposed.

2) The Members have requested works (please note there is a degree of overlap with the essential works above).  In our last two surveys and on an ongoing basis, SYC members have requested the following and, by addressing these requests, they all translate to several positive outcomes including:

  • An enlarged members-only area, integrating the various rooms (the Members’ Bar, Members’ Harbour View and Members’ Wet Bar). With the addition of the new wet bar space which can seat 80 persons, we increase our indoor, all-weather seating capacity by 35% (from 220 to approx. 300 seats)
  • The proposed changes will create the perception of a seamless membership space with Harbour and Port Phillip views from most areas (a number of current visual obstructions including some columns will be removed).
  • The construction of a members indoor/outdoor wet bar on the northern podium offering weather protection (including the replacement of the existing failed membrane on the deck).
  • The ability to have a proper, elevated and highly visible race awards areas.
  • A family-friendly space (which is proposed on the lower podium) where kids can have fun with parents keeping a watchful eye over them.
  • Members would like improved food menus, variety and better service at peak times. By consolidating and improving the kitchen we can achieve these outcomes.

The member experience

We believe the works will mean the overall member hospitality experience will be a much improved one – a more modern member area with a fresh feel, more efficient food service, better layout of the bar and point of sale, more bar surface area, increased capacity, new and refurbished furniture and furnishings, the addition of member accessible plumbed water stations and finally, all of the unsightly cleaning aspects (glassware) will now be out of sight.  We will also be adding a QR code ordering system to complement the traditional service model.  Come in after the race, scan your table QR code, login to get the member discount and order from your seat – and your food will be delivered to you (avoid the big queues).  These are just some of the things that will contribute to a better member experience.

Not 1, but 2 food menus

We have designed the kitchen around our members’ current and projected future needs.  In addition to making the work environment safer and more efficient, we will be offering not 1 but 2 menus.  We will have a standard menu across the 7 day trading week, including all of your Club favourites and a bigger range of new dishes.  The addition of a char grill and pasta cooker will make a good addition to our capability.  Then Wed-Sun we will also have a second menu (e.g. tapas) on offer and this will feature up to 15 other dishes that will change very regularly.  The kitchen will be set up so we can concurrently service the very popular Olympic Room.  We have listened to everything you have asked for and the proposed kitchen upgrade will deliver you some big improvements.  It also means we have a much better chance of coping at the peak periods (we expect our meal production capacity, with a normal menu offering, to increase from 80-90 meals per hour to 160-180 meals per hour). On twilight evenings when we take up to 400 meal orders in 60 minutes, a shortened menu is still likely to be the offering but it will be enhanced).




Various Approvals Required

In line with the Constitution, members approved these significant works and expenditure at the General Meeting on 11 July 2023.  Part A dealt with the scope of works and budget.  Part B of the motion dealt with the continuation of the facility levy. Regarding external approvals, a Bayside City Council planning permit is not required for the kitchen work, but a planning permit is required for the wet bar works. We also need Marine and Coastal Act Consent to do the works under the Marine and Coastal Act 2018.

Timing of the works

Kitchen/bar and furniture – We will proceed with the kitchen/bar works immediately and they will commence onsite 31 July 2023. There is a projected 16 week lead-time to do these works (31 July 2023 – 18 Nov 2023).  This will mean a somewhat disrupted start to the season in the clubhouse.  

Wet bar works – A planning permit is required and this will take several months to obtain (assuming no major hurdles).  Additionally, there is a detailed architectural and tender process to go through and for these reasons, the next best opportunity for construction of the wet bar would be from April 2024 onwards.


Are these works really necessary?

As set out above, there is an essential component to these works (the kitchen and northern podium repair) – and these need to happen as a priority in any case. The existing furniture is also in desperate need of replacement (and will be replaced as part of these works).


How can members assist and contribute to the project if they wish?
The works propose a full upgrade of furniture in the member areas.  Members can donate and purchase an individual item of furniture if they wish, e.g. a bar stool, a picnic table, a bar chair etc.  By doing so they get the option of having their name on that item of furniture (a popular scheme in the past).  Any choice by members to do this would reduce the project expenditure and therefore, in a small way, reduce the payback period.

What sustainability improvements will be achieved?

The new kitchen will almost entirely move away from gas (85% of equipment will be electric).  The new design will also provide for operational efficiencies, especially with cleaning.  We also looked at solar panels and whilst the main clubhouse roof is not suited given its proximity to the salt-water sea spray (and the roof itself is going to be replaced in the next few years due to wear and tear), as one of our next projects, we plan on installing solar panels on the concessions building roof as it is far more appropriate, north-facing and some distance from the sea spray.

What works are proposed for the Members’ Lounge?

Once the wet bar is constructed (likely mid-2024), it is our intention to return the lounge (sometimes also referred to as the library) to more of a lounge setting.  Dining will be encouraged in the Members’ Bar, Members’ Harbour View and Member Wet Bar areas.  All furniture in the lounge will be restored (leather chairs), sofas reinstated and/or replaced with new.

What is going to happen to the Olympic Room?

The Olympic room will remain as it is.

What will happen to all the old furniture?

The majority of our Members’ Bar furniture (not all) has reached the end of its life.  It will be disposed of and or offered to a charitable organisation, if deemed fit for purpose.  That said, there is some furniture (high tables, dining tables) that will be re-used.

If we proceed with the kitchen and bar works straight away, what happens over the next 4 months?

It will be an interrupted period.  There may be days where we move the dining tables into the upstairs lobby, Olympic Room and Members’ Lounge – and we use the Port Phillip Room kitchen.  We may need to use Ken King on some days as our alternative and on others, the Port Phillip room itself.  We don’t know all the answers but there will be some kind of offering – but it will be very interrupted.  A very reduced albeit rotating menu e.g. 4 entrees, 4 mains and 2 desserts may be the offer. We will do our best and the end result will be worth it.

Can non-members use these new proposed facilities?

The entire northern end of the clubhouse, as it is now, is for members and members’ guests use only.  Non-members who wish to sail out of SYC can purchase a sail pass and this provides clubhouse access on race days to those individuals.  It is also worth mentioning when we host regattas, those competing will be welcomed into our member areas as honorary members (for the event) and the wet bar will be ideal for this purpose.

Doesn’t SYC have an obligation around public access to our facility as we are on Crown Land?

SYC provides public access though our sail pass scheme – the public can walk in and go sailing.  We think that’s the most important public offering we have (and 100 other yacht clubs around Australia have done the same).  It’s worth noting that 45% of our new annual members come from the sail pass scheme.  In addition, we welcome non-members to our boat yard, they can purchase fuel and they can stay in our marina for 2 day stays.  We also act as a safe harbour for vessels and water users in distress – and increasingly we are called on in this regard.  We also provide our facility to emergency services for incidents and training.  Over and above these things, the public can book events in our Port Phillip and Olympic rooms and they can enrol in one of dozens of courses run by our academy – and this provides training membership on the days of the course.  Our public access is focussed on boating and boating related services – quite apt given we are a yacht club.