Grove Bay Hospitality Group is having a good summer. Last month, two restaurants under the group's umbrella received Michelin Guide recognition
: Stubborn Seed, led by Jeremy Ford, received a Michelin star, Red Rooster a Bib Gourmand. In a few weeks, the group will open the Bayshore Club
, a Coconut Grove stunner that will [ay homage to the neighborhood's history of flight.
Still, Grove Bay partners Francesco Balli, Ignacio Garcia-Menocal, and Eddie Acevedo face the same challenges that have wreaked havoc on the entire hospitality industry these past few years: rising costs, supply shortages, and a serious downturn in the number of people who want to work in the industry.
The partners decided to become proactive in the quest to attract and retain employees. They instituted training programs designed to give employees a "path to success," says Balli. And they hired a director of training and development with a background in management training. The steps landed the company on South Florida Business Journal
's 2022 list of "Best Places to Work."
The partners also wanted to do something to encourage a future generation of people to consider hospitality as a career. So, they started the Grove Bay Hospitality Group Scholarship Fund to help students pay their way through school.
Garcia-Menocal tells New Times
that he and his partners had discussed forming a foundation but only recently resolved that it should focus on education. "There aren't a lot of students coming into our industry as a lifelong career. Why not do our small part to provide some funding to help students study?"
The partners chose Florida International University's Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management as the recipient of the grants. Both Garcia-Menoccal and Balli received their master's degrees from FIU, but the partners did their due diligence before working with the school. "We've had talks with [Chaplin School] dean Michael Cheng and have toured the school. We want to be involved. We're not just going to write a check," Balli says.
Beginning with the 2022 fall semester, the Grove Bay Foundation will award $280,000 in total to a group of students. Each student will receive a $7,000 scholarship, which covers the cost of in-state tuition for a year. The scholarship covers about a third of the total annual cost of a Florida resident's tuition (books, housing, and other costs are not included ). A student may apply to renew their scholarship annually. To be eligible, one must have a major in back-of-house or front-of-house hospitality studies and meet several other criteria. FIU faculty will choose the eligible students. Students will also be able to apply to work at Grove Bay.
Balli says the foundation's goal is to get more young people interested in hospitality as a career. "We want to start getting students to study hospitality and to afford them a path to success. By providing access to higher education through these scholarships, our hope is that we empower and support the future leaders of our industry and ultimately pour this talent back into our community.”
Adds Garcia-Menocal: "Our industry has a reputation of not treating people with respect. We want to change that perception. From the beginning, we've set out to do something different with Grove Bay. We treat people with integrity. It's that sort of environment and culture that leads to success."