Decor that takes guests around the globe

wheaton emerson int salad bar

Restaurant design is all about catching a customer’s eye —and it’s sometimes particularly beneficial to be far-sighted. As Airbnb has proven with its San Francisco headquarters, where cafe spaces are inspired by cities like Cairo and Mumbai, elaborate design schemes that evoke far-flung geographic regions can be done to great effect. But operators are finding simpler ways to achieve that feel.

That’s been the experience of Kutztown University Dining Services in Pennsylvania. Kent Dahlquist, director of housing and dining services, says that when the university decided several years ago to upgrade its dining facilities, students were vocal about one particular demand: a station covering a variety of Asian cuisines. But the university decided to go even further.

On the second floor of the South Dining Hall, Kutztown transformed a grill that had been used for omelets and grilled cheese into a Mongolian flat-top. Inspired by Japanese-style teppanyaki, cooks behind the grill sizzle up meals to order. On the other side of the station, a sushi area is surrounded by low stools.

The changes have already been well-received. “There are always crazy lines at both sides of the station,” Dahlquist says.  But as renovations continue, he plans to create a seating area blocked off by Asian-style accordion dividers to carry on the theme.

Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., recently renovated its historic Emerson Dining Hall with a concept that Director of Dining Services Scott O’Rourke describes as “a cafe with a bakery concept.” To fit the impressive architecture of the building, Wheaton’s design firm partner drew inspiration from French influences, with “touches of copper, blue ceramic tile, porcelain tile ‘travertine,’ and French blue and warm yellow accents to create the feel of a Parisian bakery,” he says. ­

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Ideas and Innovation
salad

We’re currently piloting a Salad Bar Happy Hour 
in Cafe 16. Due to Health Department regulations, any self-serve salad bar items must be disposed of after service. The salad bar goes “on sale” for 25 cents an ounce post-lunchtime to help reduce waste as well as offer value to customers.

Menu Development
sauces

Adding an entirely new cuisine to the menu can feel daunting. But what if you could dabble in international flavors simply by introducing a few new condiments? For inspiration, FSD talked to operators who are offering a range of condiments plucked from global regional cuisines.

“Most ethnic cuisines have some sort of sauce or condiment relishes that go with their dishes,” says Roy Sullivan, executive chef with Nutrition & Food Services at UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco. Condiments offered to diners at UCSF Medical include chimichurri (Argentina), curry (India), tzatziki (...

Ideas and Innovation
turnip juice brine

Give leftover brine new life by adding it to vegetables. In an interview with Food52, Stuart Brioza, chef and owner of State Bird Provisions in San Francisco, says that he adds a splash of leftover brine while sauteeing mushrooms to increase their flavor profile. “We like to ferment turnips at the restaurant, and it’s a great way to use that brine—though dill pickle brine would work just as well,” he says.

Menu Development
side dishes

Operators looking to increase sales of side dishes may want to focus on freshness and value. Here’s what attributes consumers say are important when picking sides.

Fresh - 73% Offered at a fair price - 72% Satisfies a craving - 64% Premium ingredients - 56% Natural ingredients - 49% Signature side - 47% Something familiar - 46% Housemade/made from scratch - 44% Something new/unique - 42% Large portion size - 42% Healthfulness - 40% Family-size - 40%

Source: Technomic’s 2017 Starters, Small Plates and Sides Consumer Trend Report , powered by Ignite

FSD Resources