Rehab Hospital Nixes Deep-Fry

Canada facility’s sales rise nearly 20% after facility and menu upgrades.

Sales at the bistro at Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, part of the Capital Health network in Edmonton, Alberta, are up 19% and catering is growing since the hospital overhauled its cafeteria, ditched all deep-fryers and revamped the menu with more healthful items.

FoodService Director - Glenrose Rehabiliation Hospital - deep fryerGlenrose Bistro debuted last January after a year’s worth of planning and renovation of the 20-year-old cafeteria, reports Khaleed Khan, regional manager of hospitality for Capital Health. The multi-station bistro offers a grab-and-go section; self-serve soup station; panini grill; a made-to-order composed salads line; and a display cooking area that boasts a made-to-order pasta program and Chinese wok stir-fries.

The facility has gone from operating at a deficit before the revamping to breaking even within its first three months. “We’re ahead of schedule in terms of financial performance,” he asserts, adding that significant growth in catering sales—approximately 270%—is the “gravy” of the program at the 400-bed rehab hospital.

Glenrose Bistro is generating a daily average of $1,400 to $1,500 in sales, compared to $1,200 before the renovation. The check average is $3.44, up about 6.5% over the previous average of $3.23. “Lunch spending has gone up,” says Khan, noting that there have also been some price adjustments. “We changed prices, but still kept them moderate, because we know there are thresholds we can’t cross.”

Frying away: One threshold the hospital did cross, however, was the elimination of the old cafeteria’s top two sellers—french fries and fried chicken fingers. Khan says the menu items and recipes the bistro uses had to pass muster with the resident dietitians who established guidelines including criteria for the amounts of fat, fiber and sodium that should be in each.

This approach fits with a Capital Health initiative called Weight Wise, a program offering support, treatment and education in weight management. Glenrose was the first hospital in the system to implement it.

A particularly popular item at the bistro is the rice bowl, which is a mix of chicken, brown rice and other grains pre-cooked in a wok and then held in a display case, since it can take up to five minutes to prepare. Other strong performers are the panini sandwiches and the bistro feature of the day, which includes such entrees as oven-roasted chicken, salmon filet and pasta dishes.

“We’re staying away from the processed foods and using fresh ingredients as much we possibly can, and that’s meeting with success from our customers,” he reports.

Together, the redesign and the new menu reap many rewards, both tangible and intangible, according to Khan. Food costs are under target, for example. And though labor costs bumped upwards a bit with the decreased usage of pre-processed foods and the increase in display cooking, Khan says labor costs are coming down progressively, and are countered by greater control of portion sizes and decreased waste—not to mention happy customers.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The menu served at Ottawa General Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario, is headed for an overhaul after its CEO and management team ate a strict hospital food diet for a week and were unhappy with their options. The foodservice department has been fielding patient complaints for years, but decided to take action after facing the issue head on.

“Getting food managers to eat three meals of hospital food a day for a week brought the point home that much of the food being served was bland, institutional and not what people would normally eat,” Director of Food Services Kevin Peters told Ottawa...

Industry News & Opinion

With overtime pay likely to become a reality for some salaried foodservice employees after Dec. 1, operators are rethinking what they expect managers to do off-site as part of their responsibilities. Answering email or scheduling shifts at home didn’t matter when the employees were exempted from overtime if they earned more than $23,660 per year. But with that threshold more than doubling on Dec. 1 to $47,476, a half hour spent here and there on administrative tasks could push a salaried manager over the 40-hours-per-week threshold and entitle him or her to overtime. And how does the...

Menu Development
frozen raspberries

“As a chef, I pretty much have grown up through the business thinking that fresh was always better—produce, fish and meats, especially,” says Ryan Conklin, executive chef for UNC Rex Healthcare’s culinary and nutrition services. “But the more ‘re-educated’ I get, the more I’m learning that some frozen options may be more appropriate for me to be using on my menus.”

Right now, the perception of frozen foods doesn’t match the reality, especially for high-volume foodservice operators, says Conklin. Often, chefs and operators picture not-great product that’s been sitting in a block of...

Sponsored Content
Roasted Beet Salad Pickled Blueberries
From Blueberry Council.

What’s trending in the culinary world? The basics! According to the NRA, diners today are craving authenticity, simplicity and freshness on menus. But basic ingredients don’t have to lead to boring menu options.

It’s easy to fall into the latest craze to capture consumer attention and drive sales. But we’ve learned it’s not always about novelty. Instilling a feeling of nostalgia and familiarity by using well-known and well-loved ingredients in new, experimental dishes can lead to an increase in adventurous dining decisions, while staying in your customers’...

FSD Resources