When hotels and restaurants were closing up tight to accommodate pandemic lockdowns throughout the country, Jeanne and Peter Tierney were hosting a flood of new customers.
The Naples, Fla. co-owners of Bellasera Hotel and onsite restaurant The Claw Bar, felt a little like the gold rush was on. And headed right there way!
“We did not have a terrible time with the pandemic,” says Jeanne Tierney, who co-owns several Florida concepts with her husband and other family members and partners. “Being in Florida with our governor and his leadership, we were able to get up and running after about two months of lockdown.
“When we reopened people flocked to Florida because we were open for business, and we were able to generate all kinds of new business with people who’d never been here before.”
Their condominium boutique hotel experienced an uptick in real estate investors to the point that units were “gobbled up” quickly by people who wanted to own a piece of the Sunshine State.
As business at Bellasera Hotel and The Claw Bar normalizes, Tierney, her husband and co-owners are optimistically planning for the future. They’ve launched a live music venue called The London Club and are planning to open a piano bar too.
And life is good in the seaside resort town.
In this week’s Q&A with Boxerbrand blog Recipe for Success, Tierney discusses the up and down of the hospitality business she and her family enjoy.
Boxerbrand: What makes you optimistic?
Tierney: My husband is a visionary and always thinking how to improve the property. And the ideas he’s had have really paid off. We started in this location with The Claw Bar, which is the hotel’s restaurant. When he purchased the restaurant six years ago, it was an Italian restaurant that he completely remodeled.
He was so detailed in his vision for an upscale seafood restaurant that he convinced the previous owners of Bellasera Hotel, whose lobby opens into our restaurant, to allow him to pay for and remodel the hotel lobby. He completely remodeled both in richly elegant black and gold hues.
It was important to maintain the symmetry of the design from the Bellasera Hotel lobby to the restaurant, so he created a lobby that is warm and modern, with a sweeping, minimalist staircase with brass railings and deep leather club chairs.
Boxerbrand: Please describe your concept.
Tierney: We started with the upscale seafood restaurant, which is designed with deep, upholstered leather booths, a funky indoor raw bar, and outdoor patio dining overlooking our swimming pool.
Our trademark is our tower of oysters, which include East Coast oysters, King crab, and whole Maine lobsters. We also serve a miso-glazed sea bass, Mediterranean grouper, St. Augustine fish stew, as well as a selection of beef and burgers.
Our vibe is very chill and sumptuous. My husband also maintains a deep involvement with the menu, and frequently collaborates with the chef in our recipes. He has found that by paying attention to the smallest detail, it makes a tremendous difference to the overall experience of our guests.
Boxerbrand: What is Bellasera Hotel’s niche?
Tierney: It’s a boutique hotel with 100 rooms, and the unique feature is that all the rooms are part of a condo, and none of the owners can live in them.
We rent them out to vacationers who come to stay anywhere from a few days or weeks to a couple months. Each unit is a fully equipped condo, with a full kitchen, and because they work so well, our guests are able to really soak in the experience of being at home in Naples, which is a quaint, upscale beach town.
Our hotel is within walking distance of Fifth Avenue South, which is a beautiful area filled with galleries and shops. And we provide shuttles and bikes to help them fully enjoy Naples. We try to make everything as easy and comfortable for our guests as possible.
Boxerbrand: What are the challenges you face around staffing?
Tierney: There’s two sides of our situation. On the positive, we are fortunate to run a business people want to work for. We treat our employees well, and they’re busy and so our servers make a lot of money. On the flip side, Naples is a very expensive resort community with a high cost of living. So it’s very challenging for our staff to find nearby accommodations, and it’s not unusual for them to commute an hour.
Q: How do you market to your customers?
Tierney: We don’t do a lot marking and paid advertising. We’re reputation and word of mouth. We also have a strong following on social media, which I manage. Because we’ve built a loyal following of customers, they often give us shout-outs and good reviews on social media, and this helps drive our foot traffic.
I’ve found that Instagram and Facebook are our most popular tools, with Instagram being the new darling. We try to do the reels and our product happens to be attractive to social media because it’s a pretty space with lots of Instagrammable moments. Our seafood tower has been a popular photo shared by our guests on Instagram.
Boxerbrand: How have your Boxerbrand menu covers been faring?
Tierney: We use Boxerbrand in Bellasera for in-room dining. We got Linen Naturals in the color Blue Denim, with our logo embossed in gold. They look great! The whole experience with Boxerbrand was very professional, from the customer service to the product. — Bellasera Hotel uses Boxerbrand’s Linen Naturals menu cover line in its hotel rooms in the Blue Denim color-way. Thank you!