The majority owner of the Raven has “stepped in to take a more hands-on approach” to ensuring that the restaurant/club/resort can “survive and thrive,” and has assembled a new operating team with an emphasis on improving financial management, according to those involved in the reorganization.
Partner Steve Lau will no longer be “active in the day-to-day management” of the Raven, with that responsibility falling to General Manager Armando Martinez and former Raven Owner Scott DeWitt (also current owner of the New Hope Lodge across the street at 400 W. Bridge St.).
It’s widely known that the Raven has a silent investor with a controlling interest, and for this article, he wished to maintain his relative anonymity. But in an interview, he and members of his team made clear that expenses had been growing faster than revenue (read: red ink), and that the task at hand now is focusing on ROI and greater financial discipline.
“The trajectory was not sustainable,” said one operating team member. “We’ve got to make the business more profitable, and make sure it’s also a leader financially.”
“We’ve got to improve the customer experience, and the employee experience,” asserted another.
Among the team’s immediate objectives are streamlining the various food offerings, reinforcing professionalism among staff, and ensuring “consistency of service.”
Additionally, while the Raven already enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with its former owner DeWitt and his New Hope Lodge, the two establishments will be moving toward “greater integration of operations” and potential “economies of scale” in, say, purchasing food or landscaping services.
Commenting on the management moves, Lau said, “We’re really happy with what we’ve been able to accomplish over the last year, with the renovation of the Oak Room and new stage, the new lounge, the Rrazz Room, and the brand new Art Hotel. Top line revenue is up from previous years. We’ve also increased our social media presence with more than 2,000 additional followers.
“It’s the perfect time to hand the reins to an experienced day-to-day management team to maximize all of the investment in the property over the last year. Scott and Armando are friends and colleagues, and I can’t think of a better team to help the Raven move forward,” added Lau.
One persistent challenge for Raven management has been generating name recognition among a younger customer base, while maintaining its formidable roster of long-time fans.
“We’re teaming up to find a balance between old and new,” said one operations manager.
Reaction on the street to news of the Raven’s management moves was mixed, with many of those interviewed surprised by the actions, and a somewhat smaller number saying they saw the writing on the wall. Some wondered how “new” the new management team actually is, while others viewed the involvement of DeWitt as a stabilizing factor.
Operating management at the Raven were not eager to discuss possible fallout from the current reshuffling there on the planned Salt House gastropub at 7 E. Ferry St., but it would be difficult not to envision some changes down the road.
The Raven is located at 385 W. Bridge St. in New Hope.