Second Annual "The Best..."

Design

Restaurant design idea I’ve stolen
We purchased a few Electrolux Infared Panini Grills to speed up service in our customized deli stations located in residential dining facilities. We had struggled with speed of service with traditional panini presses.
—David Friend, director of dining services, West Virginia University, Morgantown, W.Va.

Recent equipment innovation I’ve seen
Since we do a lot of tableside cooking, the eco-friendly induction cooking system is fantastic. It allows instant control of cooking energy similar to gas burners, and because induction heats the cooking vessel itself, the possibility of burn injury is significantly less than with other methods.
—Robert Darrah, director of dining services, Legacy Retirement Communities, Lincoln, Neb.

Twist on a “traditional” cafeteria space I’ve seen
Brevard Public Schools’ Galley Grill. This was a hodgepodge outdoor area that was renovated and turned into a ship with two serving lines. The school used to be a middle school that served 800 students and it was turned into a high school that served 2,500 students. They only had two serving lines, so they needed additional points of service and the Galley Grill did that.
—Dawn Houser, director of nutrition services, Collier County Public Schools, Naples, Fla.

The Best, KU, Garden use of small space I’ve seen
We have a rooftop herb garden tucked away in a corner between some of the heating and cooling equipment. This area has always been locked away and was lost space. We now grow tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. While the roofing equipment utilizes a great deal of the square footage, it also provides much-needed shade to the more delicate herbs. We have 14 pickle buckets, three whiskey barrels and three earth boxes. This provides herbs for our catering operation and the full-service lunch restaurant during the summer months.
—Janna Traver, executive chef/assistant director for KU Dining Services, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kan.

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From Mrs. T’s Foodservice.

Today’s college and university students demand customization, but they also seek out creative riffs on familiar dishes, making comfort food an area of opportunity for college & university operators.

This is especially true as more restaurants across all sectors add comfort-food favorites such as meatloaf, potato tots and loaded fries to menus.

Operators are already starting to see how a comforting, customizable ingredient such as pierogies meets those needs: Menu mentions of pierogies as an entree are up 9.3% over the last two years,...

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From WinCup.

Today’s students care deeply about sustainability—much more so than the general population. For them, sustainable practices are visit drivers. What’s more, some 57% of students are willing to pay more for sustainable foods, according to Technomic’s recent College & University Consumer Trend Report . Sustainable claims drive visits, especially for young consumers: Some 31% of Gen Zers say they’re more likely to visit restaurants that try to be sustainable.

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Industry News & Opinion

Mayfield High School in Mayfield, Ohio, has opened a coffee cart in its cafeteria, The News-Herald reports .

Open throughout the day, the cart sells 12-ounce cups of coffee for $2 each. Students were able to taste-test some of the offerings and were also involved in choosing the cart’s name.

The drinks are made with low-fat milk and unsweetened flavor syrups, and soy milk is on hand for those with allergies. To encourage more breakfast participation, the school gives students 50 percent off coffee when they also buy a breakfast item. Additionally, the cart is stationed next...

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From Dannon Foodservice.

Catering to the go-go-go lifestyle of university students is a challenge, and it’s one that Boston College dining representatives wrestle with daily.

“Students don’t just want to eat dinner between 5 and 7 p.m.,” says Beth Emery, the school’s director of dining. “They may want to eat dinner at 9 o’clock. We’ve been trying to come up with creative solutions.”

Those creative solutions include everything from offering breakfast items throughout the day to providing healthier late-night choices to trolling social media for trendy new menu ideas...

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