Published On: Thu, Jul 7th, 2016

Management Reshuffle Underway at the Raven in New Hope

The Raven in New HopeThe 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.

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  1. Rivermusicproduction@yahoo.com' Maxine says:

    Ok. Lau pulled out and he is acting like Donald Trump. Young gays won’t patronize the Raven because most DO NOT have full time jobs and are paid sub-par wages. The only choice is lower prices and standards to attract the younger crowd, or depend on older gays to overpay to keep an empty house. What would you do? First rule, find out what they want and give it to them. What does the younger crowd want? What draws them? Certainly not old rich men.Get a Blogett pizza oven and make artisan pizza bar pies, serve burgers like red robin, and salads and soups like Panera, you’ll draw youth in the dining room.

  2. ttfordman@gmail.com' Terry says:

    the raven sucks since the takeover. last weekend i was charged three times on my credit card for one drink. i only realized this after i saw a warning on facebook from another customer. no more beer on tap…the system has been down for two weeks… air conditioning was broken for days during a heat wave..every time i order something they are out of it or menu has “changed”. bathrooms messy and horrible with toilet paper and paper towels all over the floor, no soap anywhere. long time employees walked out of the kitchen and serving the lunch menu at dinner with the waiters in the kitchen cooking the food. mussels gone, taco tuesday gone. no good pool menu. two weeks ago I was the only person in the bar on a friday night at 7pm. the only person.it is a total mess. i gave it three tries over the last month and will never return.

    • ngg1255@gmail.com' Dexter says:

      “Square One” in Logan Square is where it’s at these days. Awesome staff, awesome kitchen, great drinks and happy hour prices that cannot be beat. The crowd is modern, hip and fun. There is nothing not to like here. On the other hand, The Raven has been spiraling downward for years and seems unlikely to regain its former glory. A combination of changing social tastes and needs, and mismanagement have all but sunk this ship. Without a radical overhaul, it’s hard to imagine it will survive.

  3. Christopherlawrence47@aol.com' Christopher says:

    Major renovations to a large property cost a lot of money and will put a business in the “red ink” until you begin to see a return on your investment. How long do you think it will take Odette’s, Logan Inn? Hotel Du Village etc to recoup construction and startup costs to become “”profitable”? Years? All I know is what I saw (and I have lived here for 25 years): A steady stream of new people coming to The Raven- gay and straigh, young and old- because of the changes. Renovations, more sophisticated food offerings, fresher music, the raz room, better marketing and branding. They were certainly onto something.

  4. Neal1152@aol.com' Neal Bartle says:

    Sad to hear that Steve is being pushed out only to be replaced with Scott and Armando who will both bring their special brand of customer engagement. Having been one of the many 50 plus guys who have been on the receiving end of Armando’s numerous ageism and old queen comments, other than the Razz room which I hope is not screwed up by the new management, looking forward to seeing everyone at Square One that is owned by two gay gentlemen who know how to treat their customers with kindness and respect.

    • sixtysmama@gmail.com' Chris says:

      So glad you share my sentiment,Neal.Ageism runs rampant at tha Raven .Square one owners and staff are the most fun and respectful people I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with.Wether you are 21 or 91, gay,straight,bi,trans or anything else ,you are treated with dignity and respect.It is now THE place to be.A true cheers for ALL.

  5. sixtysmama@gmail.com' Chris says:

    This comment is a reply to Michael.Though I agree with your comment,I take offense to your reference to the ” geriatric ” crowd that has moved elsewhere.Many of these folks have fought for the freedom and rights that you now enjoy.Some fought at stonewall and marched,protested and were beaten and humiliated for YOU.The disrespect and humiliation shown to us,by the former
    management of the Raven has been Dispicable.We have become invisible and forgotten by the gay community in New Hope and especially by certain establishments.I hope that things are different for you,Michael when you become part of the ” geriatric ” crew.And yes,we have moved on to an establishment that treats us with dignity and respect.And you don’t have to be a raging alcoholic who throws their paycheck across the bar every week to gain that respect.Money spent on food is as good as money spent on alcohol and plenty was spent.Never did have a dollar hot dog.Sorry to hear that STEVE is leaving .He was a gentleman and was a breath of fresh air compared to the former .Should be interesting to see how this plays out.

    • pattyp52@yahoo.com' Pat says:

      I’m with Chris on this. Shame on you!!!! We are The Raven and have been going for decades. Armando and company drove most of us away and STEVE reached out to repair bridges that had been burnt. Watch the mass exodus happen now… again. NO RESPECT!!!!!!!!!

  6. theb07728@yahoo.com' Billi says:

    The raven has been better but many are complaining about the music. Also, the price of rooms at both the raven and new hope lodge are way too high. I stayed there a few weeks ago it cost over $400 for two nights. The place is so old (new hope lodge) I feel like I’m camping while staying there.

  7. Mymail@verizon.com' Rod says:

    Please improve the music. The last few times I went the music was really boring.

  8. Icant@me.com' Annonymous says:

    I work at the Raven. This article says new management will listen to its employees but we were all just told that we will be “immediately terminated if we question the changes or talk about them with anyone”. No more employee meals and no more comp drinks for anyone on staff. It’ hasn’t been perfect but at least Steve had a real vision and it was way way better then it was before. He was here every day working hard and everyone loves him. He talked to people. His partner Kevin is STILL the only person holding the kitchen together working endless hours for weeks on end. They are good people. Open your eyes and take a look around.. I don’t know how anyone can say it’s not better unless you have a vested interest in getting your old job back. Just sayn’ Oh, and you can fire me now. 😉

  9. Polishguy125@yahoo.com' Peter says:

    I remember the time when the Raven was run by Robert Ebert, he was excellent very professional manager He knew how to handle his customers, every week you walk to the bar there were all locals from town we were singing having good time was just wonderful friendly bar then..
    after that when they sold the bar to the new owners Terrance and his toy boy, everything starts going apart they start banning people bar was note the same ever since..
    When Scott &Armando took over the things start coming back to normal, the bar become locals bar again..
    You have to remember Scott was not millionaire he didn’t have the money to invest into the property is the last owners he try to keep the Raven in business so people from the gay community have a place to go and socialize he hire all his friends who used to work at the Raven, so you have to give him credit he was truly good to his friends a lot of them they still work till today at the Raven..
    Armando I truly don’t know him well I see him been involved with different charities,to me he is, very pleasent, intelligent young man…
    Steve did a lot of good improvement in to do a raven we have to give him credit for that, just like somebody mentioned to make money you have to spend it……

  10. Billlorey@gmail.com' William says:

    Very short sighted. The new owner brought more positive changes to The Raven since Robert Ebert was there 20 years ago. You need to invest to make money- and it REALLY needed investment and TLC, which he did. Many of us had given up and then came back again.

  11. tydan90@att.net' Harry says:

    Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water…There Back!!!

    So long to the bird… and those horrible broken down bar stools.

  12. bclosterman@ffrlaw.com' Billy C says:

    Sigh 🙁 I just started liking it again.
    Old owners were cheap and didn’t spend a dime for years on any improvements.

  13. Mgoodman67@gmail.com' Michael says:

    Ask any of the bartenders and they will tell you their numbers are up. Younger crowd now, broader audience and fun people coming back again. (Armando and Scott even banned miss pumpkin!!) A welcome change from the gay ghetto it had become. It was getting really depressing there for a while. .Maybe lost some of the geriatric $1 hotdog and coffee crowd to square one recently but otherwise busier. Service in dining room could be better but has always been bad accept for jack and Jim and a couple others. At least you saw Lau running around working his ass off and talking to people rather than siting in an office all day long. Cuter, younger servers now too.. Zach, Rocco Etc. Only heard great buzz in the community about what they were doing. Don’t let the bean counters strip the soul and ruin the steps forward that were made. Oh.. And FINALLY new deck chairs and umbrellas that don’t pinch your ass every time you sit down. They spent money because the place was falling apart. Why didn’t Scott ever fix this stuff? Thank you!

    • frolica@verizon.net' Danoh says:

      Who’s money were they spending? The majority owner possibly.Let us all face it look any afternoon from 1pm to about 4pm and you may see 4 people unless it is on Robby Burns shift who knows what salesmanship is all about and has fun with his clients and draws them in using humor and laughter.

  14. 19ron57@gmail.com' Ron says:

    This is great news. The service at the pool and the restaurant has been terrible. The staff is unhappy and tells everyone so. They need a manager who says hello to guests and interacts better with the staff.

    • jkrolic@gmail.com' james says:

      Are we talking about the same place? The staff seemed happy to me and it’s the same servers in the dining room that have been there forever. I’m there three times a week and know them all. Pool menu much better. More choices.

  15. frolica@comcast.net' Bill D says:

    Scott and Armando WILL make the Raven great again. They should and will be taking advice from the dedicated employees who have always made the Raven great, Robby, Phil, Glen. We do not want New York, Fort Lauderdale or 400-dollar Art rooms. We want consistency. The Menu became boring NO SPECIALS. How about a dollar hotdog? How about co-workers helping co-workers and not leaving the next task to the next shift. I know Scott and Armando are dedicated professionals that will excel and make the Raven a vacation destination. Good Luck Scott and Armando

    • Jamesjames56@yahoo.com' Jimmy J says:

      They didn’t do it before. Why would they do it now? It was in a downward spiral under their command. That’s why he couldn’t wait to get out.

  16. Joeperry@yahoo.com' Joe P says:

    No!!! The Raven was finally good again thanks to Steven. The place was dead for years. He breathed new life and brought new faces. Just look at the place now. What are you thinking???

    • Michener215@gmail.com' Steven says:

      I agree with you they pulled the plug too soon. I was just starting to go back. The old owners who are now coming back destroyed the place.

  17. franklepre33@gmail.com' Frank Lepre says:

    Wow !!! Do you want your business to fail? Scott DeWitt and his boyfriend Armando are the ones that ran it into the ground before you bought The Raven !! They chased away customers because they were VERY rude to them. Lost GREAT bartenders due to Armando. If he didn’t like them He fired them for no reason. Scott said when he first purchased The Raven that he wanted to make it like it use to be, and for a while it was. Then Armando came along and it all went to hell. But hey, if you want to throw you investment and your reputation away, then by all means, hire them !!! Good luck !! You’re going to need it !!!

  18. Jesse11112013@yahoo.com' Jesse says:

    I went recently to the pool and wasn’t impressed. Rather boring, and what’s with the music?

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