Redesign or new construction?

Three steps to finding the best flow for your dining space.

construction plans drawing tools calculator

When revamping an old cafeteria or building a new retail spot, the design process can feel like fitting together the pieces of a puzzle: What needs to fit in the space, and what’s the most efficient flow for staffers, cooks, diners and more?

Cathy Estes, administrative director of nutrition services at four northern Indiana hospitals that are part of the Franciscan Health network, faced the creation of a new in-house dining program at Franciscan’s Munster hospital. Amid all the big plans, design was one of the largest undertakings.

“I was looking at 5,000 square feet on a blueprint, and it kept me up at night: ‘How are we going to do all of this?’” she says.

Step 1: Work backward from the final goal

Because Franciscan Health Munster was previously bringing in patient meals from a nearby sister hospital, Estes says, the company had to determine what kind of operations to offer. “First we were talking about retherming food, then we moved away from that and decided we wanted to go for a kitchen,” she says. “Then we discussed tray service in the cafeteria, room service and more.”

Those decisions helped Estes’ team determine what equipment would be required; with room service, for example, they needed a blast chiller. “It helped us figure out what was nice to have, like a panini maker, versus a must-have, like a grill,” she says.

When it comes to redesigning existing spaces, the concept is similar, says Adam Millman, senior director of dining at Yale University. “If the overall goal is to reduce square footage, that drives a certain layout,” he says. “If it’s to reduce labor, that’s an entirely different consideration.”

Step 2: Glean inspiration from multiple sources

The key to back-of-house design is reduced traffic, Millman says. “If you have a pasta station, for example, you want everything at arm’s reach. You need to group everything you need to support activity within that zone; otherwise you get cross-trafficking and inefficiencies.”

That requires insight into the nitty-gritty of how operations work, so it’s key to get input from staffers—but, Millman warns, remember they “may not have the same values as you, especially if your goal [with the redesign] is to reduce staffing.”

Externally, take note of good flow design—especially opportunities for dual-purpose equipment and furniture. Millman says Starbucks helped inspire a central part of Yale’s Cafe Med retail location: In the middle of the cafe sits a “provisions area with snacks and sundries that allows us to serve more SKUs, but it also serves as a barrier and avoids people crowding.”

Step 3: Don’t forget post-construction work

At Munster, which serves about 300 cafeteria meals and 150 patient meals daily since operations began last spring, the biggest challenge of determining good flow was training staffers on the new equipment and space.

Don’t fear that adjustment period, nor the possibility of making a mistake, Millman says. “To say you’ll get it right the first time is not achievable, so you have to be flexible.”

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Amherst-Pelham Regional School District in Amherst, Mass., is updating its lunch debt policy to no longer single out students, MassLive reports.

Under the new policy, students with lunch debt will be given the same meals as their peers, regardless of how much they owe. School officials will also be communicating directly with parents of students who have accumulated debt instead of through the students themselves.

The updated policy comes just before U.S. school districts will be required to publicly list their lunch debt policies, per new USDA requirements starting July 1...

Menu Development
eureka

Since California’s state motto is “Eureka!” it seems fitting that a recent conversation with the director of hospitality at San Diego’s Palomar Health led to the biggest aha moment I’ve had in a long time.

I called Jim Metzger in late April with the purpose of discussing Palomar’s recent commitment to the goal of making 60% of its total menu plant-based by this summer. It seemed a lofty number, and I was curious how the public health system planned to get there.

But my personal eureka didn’t come while we were talking about how Palomar had cleaned up the impulse-buy zones...

Industry News & Opinion

Labeling foods with indulgent buzzwords such as “sweet sizzlin’” and “crispy” can lead consumers to make healthier food choices , according to a recent study out of Stanford University .

In the fall 2016 study, researchers labeled vegetables in one of the school’s dining halls using terms from four categories: basic, healthy restrictive, healthy positive or indulgent.

The green beans, for example, were listed as “green beans” for basic, “light ‘n’ low-carb green beans and shallots” for healthy restrictive, “healthy energy boosting green beans and shallots” for healthy...

Ideas and Innovation
sparkling water

Our carbonated soft drink sales at Earls.67 reflect a national trend; we’re continually down on carbonated soft drink sales by 8% to 9% on an annual basis,” says Cameron Bogue, beverage director at the contemporary-casual chain Earls Kitchen + Bar.

The issue with spa water

Many operators are intrigued with the offering, but they are learning that infused water can’t be offered at a cost to guests unless there is added value beyond cut-up fruit. Bogue says, “I was adamant that I didn’t want to charge for spa water.”

Agua fresca alternatives

At the original location of

...

FSD Resources