Is the service in the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek taking a turn for the worse?

Changes at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek: The Restaurant GM Resigns; Staff Concerned About Quality of Service

An anonymous email from the Restaurant Staff at the Mansion details a sad state of affairs in the once luxurious dining room. Days later, Ryan Harvey, the general manager for the restaurant at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, has accepted a position at the Tower Club. Strange coincidence?

Ryan Harvey, general manager of the dining room at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek will move to the Tower Club.
Ryan Harvey, general manager of the dining room at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, was offered an opportunity to head the F&B program at the Tower Club.

Ryan Harvey, the general manager for the restaurant at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, has accepted a position with Club Corp, the company that manages luxury country clubs and business clubs all over the world. Harvey resigned three days ago and will begin his new job as head of Food & Beverage at the prestigious Tower Club in downtown Dallas on October 1. He has been at the Mansion for four and a half years. “Working at the Mansion has been an incredible experience for me,” Harvey says. “The pride that I have for being an activate participant of such a superb organization’s existence, history, and culture is something that I will always cherish.”

A few days before I spoke with Harvey, I received a lengthy email signed by the Mansion Restaurant staff. Their message was distinctively different from Harvey’s. The group of frustrated servers wrote they are concerned the restaurant at the Mansion is losing the “special occasion” appeal. Here are specific examples of new policies they claim are “dwindling down” the reputation of the restaurant.

Dress Code: “There are many restaurants below us that have nice tablecloths, somewhat of a dress code, and many other things. Really, you could be dressed up in a nice tux at the Mansion and seated to someone in a baseball cap and shorts.”

Table Settings: “The tables [have been] replaced with slates from Crate & Barrel…We no longer set with glasses or silverware!  With a four-top you have no room for silverware to be set, so we manage to just stuff it somewhere on the table. We do not use stem wear for water anymore. Since there is no white tablecloth, condensation just drips all over the table and we just place your silverware in the wet puddle and crumbs. That’s not very sanitary!”

Service: “They refuse to hire server assistants and we are running with just one at some times. It’s so busy the server has to prioritize whether a person should get a water refill or open a $200 bottle of wine. We’ve also cut out many steps of service, like no more hot tea service. We use clear ceramic glasses for tea and coffee now. Wines are now poured at the bar not at the table. The wine pours are two ounces less, but price is the same. There are no controls on employee uniforms. We went from suits to just all black shirt and pants and khaki pants in the morning.”

Alcohol Pours: “We used to have finer and larger wine and cocktail glasses. They have been replaced with cheaper Riedel glasses. We used to pour and let the guest taste the wine at the table. We also used to pour four glasses per bottle, now we are required to get five glasses out of a bottle. Cocktail glasses are about the size of a measuring cup now. The prices are still the same.”

Special Touches: “We use to have special touches like putting napkins in people’s laps and birthday/ anniversary notes written on desserts. We have been told that is old school. How is making people feel special old school?”

It’s no secret that the Mansion relaxed the atmosphere after the property was acquired by New World Development Company in Hong Kong in June 2011. New leadership brings new direction and changes. Many of the servers behind the emails have been at the Mansion for a long time and, while they understand the concept of trying new ideas, they fear the concerns they have voiced to management are not being taken seriously. They are also afraid of losing their jobs for speaking out.

When I spoke with Ryan Harvey I told him about the emails from the staff. He sounded genuinely stunned. I asked if the claims were true and what part, if any, they played in his leaving. “The department of F&B [at the Mansion] has gone in a different direction and a lot of people have left,” Harvey says. “They are trying more avant garde approaches and the approach to the guest is more casual, but still refined. My reason for leaving the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek was due to the exciting and wonderful new opportunity to join Club Corp as the Director of Food+Beverage at the Tower Club-Dallas. The relationships I have developed, friends I have made, and the people I have met along the way have been a profound part of my career and journey.”

After I ended my phone call to Harvey, I emailed the staff and asked how Harvey’s departure would affect their cause. They didn’t even know he’d turned in his resignation.

Change is painful. I hope emails from a devoted staff crying for help to save the Mansion’s reputation as a special occasion destination are a starting point for better communication between management and staff. If you’ve got something to add, please do so.

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Comments

  • Jimmy

    Very sad that The Mansion has lost another great asset. The new ownership and the new F&B director are running the restaurant into the ground. The old-time servers still deliver the best service anywhere but they are fighting an uphill battle against Luke and the new CEO’s utter disregard for the history and legend of the Mansion. There are still some good people at the Mansion but I’m sure they are ripe for picking by other restaurants and hotel companies. I am surprised Ryan lasted as long as he did – he is the kindest, more genuine person I have ever worked with and the dumbing down of the Mansion was a slap in the face to his gift of hospitality. It’s a mess . . I thought it couldn’t get worse after the renovation added strange chandeliers and no table cloths but the new look is actually worse and the Chili’s-like uniforms of the waiters is laughable. Those employees deserve so much more. Way to go, Chinese owners.

  • Maria Whiteside Mejia

    Ryan will be MISSED! He makes so many diners feel so special. and he is able to connect and developed long-term relationships with those clients. Wishing him the best!

  • Sheryl Mexic

    Listen to your front line employees. Otherwise you’ll regret it.

  • Brittany Warburton

    Ryan Harvey will be missed!

    Wonderful black & white portrait by Debra O’Brien btw!

  • Dallas Gal

    Interesting … I am fairly young (under 25) and have always wanted to dine at The Mansion due to its esteem and luxurious reputation, but this sounds like another average restaurant … if you remove the high-end appeal, what is the allure to visit and say “I dined at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek?” I certainly won’t pay more for the same quality of service I could find elsewhere …

    • Underglass

      The chef is exemplary. I suggest you go see for yourself and form your own opinion. The mansion is many things, but average in not among them.

  • Jacob

    I think that news about Ryan departing from the Mansion and the woes of the Mansion Restaurant should be kept separate. Ryan is such a hospitable, kind, and fantastic person all around. It should be celebrated that he is moving on to bigger and better things and not overshadowed by things happening around him.

  • TheBradsBlog

    Hey, nice pic of the lobby, BTW!

  • JDD

    Had dinner tonight at the Mansion and I can understand some of the concerns expressed in the email. However, if service were the barometer that this restaurant should be judged by, then tonight was exceptional. Our server, Susan, offered just the right mix attentiveness and friendliness that made the evening special. She was very knowledgable about wines, gave good descriptions of the evening’s food and made wonderful suggestions when we were indecisive. As long as the Mansion keeps their staffing at this level we will keep coming back.

  • Coco

    There are no words except this is heart braking news that Ryan is leaving the Mansion. After other recent exits from the restaurant and bar I fear the Mansion will never be the same. Although we still have several dear friends in all areas of the restaurant, bar & hotel, I hope the new owners will open their eyes and ears and listen to the staff’s concerns, many of which we agree on. They have, after all, been the backbone of the Mansion for decades and know what their guests expect and enjoy. This is, after all, Dallas, Texas…not the east coast, nor the west coast or anywhere else. Please don’t try to change it now.

  • Guest

    Everyone worries about the people in the top,
    but how about all those employees who work
    in the kitchen and are mistreated every day.
    Not even a bottle of water. Please! Mr. Flynn
    can afford to leave, but they can’t.

  • DGirl

    Glad to know @JDD had great service from Susan the other night. Susa, Zeke, Hugo, Ray, Barbara and all of those whose names escape me are the threads of the Mansion silk. They will always give you exceptional service, be warm, attentive and professional because that’s who they are. Despite whatever drama that goes on in this restaurant, and in the 34 years it’s been open, there’s been plenty, they will continue to be the heart and soul of the FOH and the reason so many people love(d) going there. Yes, Bruno and his entire kitchen team are excellent – beyond compare – but the service experience is a huge component of that restaurant. It’s tough to succeed when you don’t have both.

  • Pingback: Rosewood Mansion has a new wine director: Jennifer Eby, who replaces Michael Flynn as cellar master | EscapeHatchDallas()