Grains and Flatbreads Deliver Health at Hallmark

New concepts help employees achieve health goals.

Lindsey Ramsey, Contributing Editor

The grain bar functions like a pasta bar only it uses
various grains as a base.

KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Two new concepts at Hallmark Co. headquarters—a grain bar and a flatbread station—offer healthy options to encourage customers to improve their diets, according to Christine Rankin, corporate foodservices manager. Rankin says health and wellness has become a major focus at the account in recent years.

“We just launched our second year of Hallmark Health Rewards, which is a health incentive program where employees can earn up to 250 points or $250 every year by making healthy choices in three categories,” Rankin says. “You can earn points by going for your requisite wellness screenings at the doctor or dentist. The second category is getting educated. The third category is you can earn points for diet and exercise.”

To contribute to this program, Rankin says her department has been coming up with new ways to offer healthier offerings. The department decided to focus on grains because of their superfood properties.

The grain bar has been integrated into a station called Creative Cuisine, which rotates on a weekly basis. The grain bar was installed as one of the concepts that rotates in and out. Customers choose one of three grains as the base of their dish. Monday, Wednesday and Friday offers one set of three grains, and Tuesday and Thursday offers a different set of three grains.

“It’s sort of like a pasta bar except we’re using different grains as a base,” Rankin says. “We’re using both red and white quinoa, farro, amaranth and wheat berries. Then we have a variety of toppings like chicken, tofu, shrimp, walnuts, roasted sweet potatoes, edamame, garbanzo beans and more. On our first day we sold 125 covers at the grain bar.”

Fun with flatbread: Rankin says another healthy option the café has introduced is a flatbread station. The station offers a one-portion, crisp crust flatbread with a variety of toppings. All portions are less than 300 calories with less than 14 grams of fat. Toppings include chicken, white bean and asparagus; Hawaiian ham with pineapple salsa; and salmon with capers and fennel.

“That’s been really popular,” Rankin says. “We’re doing about 150 to 160 covers of those per day.’”

Rankin says the department hasn’t really had much trouble purchasing the products necessary for each station. In fact, implementing both concepts was relatively easy.

“The information about grains is very much out there now, so it was easy for us to find it and pass it along to our customers,” Rankin says. “We only chose six grains and we didn’t have any trouble buying them. I’d say the toughest thing we had to do was eat a lot of flatbread. We aren’t making the crust so we had to try a bunch of different ones. I’ve just had tremendous feedback from people who are vegetarian and people saying they appreciate the variety.

“I think you need somebody dedicated to the flatbread station,” Rankin adds. “We have a chef working on it now and he is training someone else. There is definitely time involved in terms of the mise en place of the station. It takes a while to set up. [Both of these concepts] are new so we may run into things down the road.”

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
star wars storm trooper

My favorite event—because I’m kind of dorky—is our “May the fourth be with you” (aka “Star Wars”) day on May 4. The whole dining team dresses up, and we offer things like Chewbaklava, Boba Fettuccine and BB-8 Buckeyes. We had a guest cry because they got to take a picture with Chewy.

Menu Development
recipe revamp chicken soup

As a continuous care retirement community, The Garlands of Barrington in Illinois provides daily foodservice to 270 independent living and skilled nursing care residents, with the majority of sodium restrictions coming from the latter, says Executive Chef Nicola Torres. Instead of cooking two versions of chicken noodle soup—a favorite offered at least twice a week—he reworked his recipe into a flavorful lower-sodium version that appeals to all. “Everybody eats soup, so I created a homemade stock that uses no salt at all, ramping up the flavor with fresh herbs and plenty of vegetables,...

Ideas and Innovation
tray number

We created lucky tray days to help create an experience surrounding our brand. The trays are numbered; we pick a number and the winner receives a free lunch. We’ve enlisted the help of one of our coaches, who calls out the random lucky winner, and it drums up a lot of excitement.

Managing Your Business
line kings girl goat open kitchen

Open kitchen concepts satisfy guests’ curiosity and desire for transparency. But there are some caveats. Here’s how to create a positive experience for both staff and customers when the walls are down.

Train to serve

With the back-of-house up front, everybody gets hospitality training. “Our cooks understand the food and what they’re doing incredibly, but translating that to guests requires [soft] skills that need to be honed,” says Marie Petulla, co-owner of two restaurants in Southern California.

Dress for a mess

At Girl & The Goat in Chicago, chef-owner Stephanie...

FSD Resources