Getting it to go: 2010 Portability Study

Six operators share how they are seeing growth in their take-away business.

Grab and Go By Necessity

When the 100-seat cafeteria at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, Calif., closed for renovation in mid-September, Gail Ermer faced a dilemma. How was the director of food and nutrition services at the 252-bed hospital going to continue to provide meals for the more than 1,000 employees who relied on the café on a regular basis?

Her solution was to create Café Good To Go, a “quasi-delivery service” that allows staff to order meals online. Under the program, staff use the hospital’s intranet site to view and print out each day’s menu. They then circle their meal choices and fax the page to the hospital’s kitchen. Meals are paid for through payroll deduction.

A YouTube video, designed for internal use only, instructs employees on the order and pick-up process.

“We wanted to be able to continue to provide meals for staff and visitors,” Ermer explains. “We looked at a number of options and this made the most sense. There is one menu for breakfast and another for lunch and dinner.”

Café Good To Go is located in the hospital’s lobby. Meals are prepared and packaged in the kitchen and delivered to the lobby, where employees can pick them up at prearranged times on the hour and half-hour.

“Visitors can come to the lobby and place orders as well,” Ermer notes. “Those meals are ready in 30 minutes.”

There are two outside tented areas, one on the side of the administration building and the other outside the hospital’s cancer center, where customers can eat their meals.

Ermer explains that the lobby location was chosen over two other options—delivering meals to the employees and setting up pick-up stations on each hospital floor.

“On the delivery, we got push back from the nurses, who were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to eat their meals when they were delivered, which created an issue of where to store the meals,” she says. “Putting a station on each floor would have been very labor-intensive.”

A few changes were implemented to help sell the new program, Ermer adds.

“We already had to-go packaging, but we bought some sturdier containers for this service,” she says. “On the menu, we made some improvements like making the sandwiches larger and more gourmet. And we bought new uniforms for the staff.”

Ermer acknowledges that Café Good To Go is not a perfect solution, noting that sales are only 30% of what they were before the cafeteria closed. “But it is working, and the most important thing is, we have kept all of our employees working through the renovation. We are considering keeping this function after the cafeteria reopens early next year.”

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Maryland will begin offering weekly specials at all of its dining halls this semester, The Diamond Back reports.

The weekday specials will allow Dining Services to offer past menu items that students miss as well as new dishes students have been requesting, according to a spokesperson.

Students can find out which specials are being offered each week via dining hall table tents as well as through Dining Services’ social media. During select weeks, the specials may reflect a particular theme, such as Taste of the South.

Read the full story via...

Menu Development
jackfruit

It emerged as a top food trend on Pinterest’s 2017 predictions, is “the latest miracle food” according to Epicurious, and was called “a nutritional bonanza” by NPR. Jackfruit is the latest superfood garnering buzz, and Even Stevens Sandwiches has gone after the vegetarian-friendly option for a recently launched torta. Here, Culinary Director Brandon Price shares three lessons learned from adding jackfruit to the menu.

Finding the best form

Using fresh jackfruit wasn’t the answer for the chain. It has to be sourced internationally, and breaking it down cuts into labor costs. But...

Ideas and Innovation
hibachi grill cooking

We saw in 2016 that many operators were trying to have some type of display cooking in their food operation. We installed a hibachi grill this fall, and within three months we had 300 residents and guests make reservations. We also use our hibachi grill for cooking classes twice a month, where our hibachi chef Abby Kramer does an excellent job teaching different cuisines. We have received so many compliments that we have decided to get another hibachi grill for a different dining venue in 2017.

Menu Development
brisket beef plate

Just when it seemed barbecue couldn’t get any trendier—it did. More consumers now than in 2014 are looking for a variety of barbecue menu items, according to Technomic’s Center of the Plate: Beef & Pork Consumer Trend Report. The demand is up for smoked sausage (+19%), beef brisket (+12%) and beef ribs (+16%) for dinner—a trend noncommercial operators say they are also noticing.

Corporate Executive R&D Chef Jeffrey Quasha at Atlanta-based Morrison Healthcare helped launched 50 Liberty Street BBQ microconcept locations throughout the U.S. in December. Due to their success,...

FSD Resources