Amid NYC restrictions, Arlo pivots F&B toward community

Under normal circumstances, the Arlo SoHo and the Arlo NoMad encourage guests to get out of their comfortable rooms and mingle within the hotels’ shared spaces. This is such an ingrained policy that neither offered room service. Until now. 

With the city restricting restaurants to takeout and delivery services to keep the spread of coronavirus in check, the hotels’ restaurant menus are available via room service, but without the room service upcharges, said Hannah Redfield, corporate director of public relations for Arlo Hotels. The company operates three independent hotels, two in New York City and one in Miami.

“Arlo SoHo and Arlo NoMad didn’t have traditional in-room service,” she said. “As you can see anywhere on the news, it’s going to be a really tricky time for us.”

One of Arlo hotels' New York City bodegas
One of Arlo hotels’ New York City bodegas

Contributed by Jeanette Hurt

Besides switching to room service – the hotels did not release occupancy numbers – the properties had to pivot quickly to switch in-restaurant and in-bar service to takeout and delivery.

The pivot wasn’t complicated, since both New York hotels already had on-property bodegas – little stores with grab-and-go coffees, drinks, fresh sandwiches and other food items. Now, both hotels’ restaurants also are offering take-out directly from the bodegas.

“It’s all freshly made, like yogurt parfaits instead of just eating boxed pastas,” Redfield said. “We have so many residential buildings in the area, so it is a good service to offer.”

Arlo SoHo has offered delivery of food and even beer, wine and cocktails to neighbors, as well as directly from its restaurant, Harold’s. Arlo NoMad offers deliveries to customers calling its restaurant directly. Residents who crave a certain grab-and-go item from the bodegas can also call the hotels to have it delivered.

Happy hour survives

In fact, Arlo SoHo has continued its happy hour, but only through delivery service, to neighbors who used to frequent the hotel’s Arlo Lobby Bar or Harold’s restaurant. The Happy Hour Hotline runs from 3 to 6 p.m., with delivery of seasonal and other craft cocktails, along with beer and wine with reduced happy hour prices. In New York City, cocktails, wine and beer can be delivered from restaurants if the customers also order food.

Since the hotel only has offered such delivery service for two full days, there aren’t any metrics available to determine how popular it is or how popular it will become, said Gary Wallach, F&B director for Arlo Hotels. “This is uncharted territory for hotels, restaurants and bars, and we’re hoping the New York City community will come together to aid small businesses like ours,” Wallach says. “Who doesn’t need a Happy Hour Hotline right now?”

Besides the hotline, the hotel company is offering free food delivered to elderly and immune-compromised individuals for those who request it. The restaurant has been promoting this service on its webpage and Instagram page, but exact numbers of people who have requested it aren’t yet available.

“Obviously, this is an unprecedented situation — and I’ve said unprecedented about a thousand times — for New York and its neighborhoods, and everyone needs to pull together to help support small businesses, and we need to support people who don’t have access to fresh groceries and who need them,” Redfield said.

One of the big challenges, she added, is that the hotel management has to keep on top of an ever-changing list of requirements and rules; in this situation, it’s important for hotels to keep in touch and to follow government-issued regulations, avoiding hearsay and rumors.

“We’re careful to only follow directions from direct, governmental sources,” Redfield said. “One of the benefits of being an independently owned and run operation is that we have a decent amount of flexibility to respond to these rapidly changing regulations.”