Non-commercial dominates Operator Innovation Awards finalists

National Restaurant Association new awards program innovations in five key areas.

Five non-commercial foodservice operators have been chosen as finalists for the National Restaurant Association’s inaugural Operator Innovation Awards. Three finalists have been chosen in each of five categories—Sustainability, Technology, Health & Nutrition, Food Safety and Menu Development. Winners will be announced at a new event during the NRA’s 2012 Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show next month.

Colorado Springs School District 11 and Sodexo North America are two of the three finalists in the Food Safety category. Colorado Springs was named for its “Allerschool” program, which keeps tracks of all potential allergens in school menu items in order to decrease the risk of students being exposed to foods that could harm them. Sodexo made the grade for its ISO-recognized food safety program. Waffle House Inc. is the third finalist in this category.

All three finalists in the Health & Nutrition category are non-commercial operators. Sodexo made the finals for its Did You Know Café, a cafeteria-as-classroom education program. Chartwells Higher Education was selected for its Balanced U health and wellness program. The University of California at San Francisco Medical Center was recognized for its integrated approach to alerting customers to healthful dining options.

In the Menu Development category, Sodexo School Services was selected for its Future Chefs competition, which encourages elementary and secondary school students to create and prepare healthful recipes. The University of North Carolina Healthcare was chosen for its program allowing hospital patients to order meals from 13 self-branded retail outlets in the facility. The other finalist is The Cheesecake Factory Inc. for its “stylized small plates” menu.

Finalists in the Technology category are airport concessionaire HMS Host, Which Wich franchisee SMART Restaurant Group and Stacked Restaurants LLC, Yorba Linda, Calif.

In the Sustainability category, finalists are Evelyn Hill, Inc., a New York City caterer that manages concessions at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island; Starbucks; and Chicago restaurant company Uncommon Ground.

“The Operator Innovations Awards are designed to celebrate and encourage continued advancement in the restaurant industry, while shining a spotlight on leading innovators who inspire other restaurant operators to new heights,” said Jack Crawford, convention chair for NRA Show 2012 and president and CEO of Ground Round Independent Owners Cooperative, LLC. “This first year’s operator finalists are driving innovation and excellence in execution, fueling customer satisfaction and profitability.”

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
local produce

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.

Students are looking for foodservice operations with comprehensive sustainability programs, and...

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...

Sponsored Content
boston college acai bowl

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...

Sponsored Content
savory yogurt parfait

From Dannon Foodservice.

What consumers eat and, most importantly, when they’re eating it has changed significantly in recent years, signaling opportunity for operators able to capitalize on this evolution.

For example, some 83% of consumers said they were daily snackers in 2016, according to Technomic’s Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report . That’s up from 76% just two years earlier. Snacking is growing across many channels from retail prepared foods to bakery and coffee cafes, fast-food locations and more.

Busy lifestyles, smaller households with greater meal...

FSD Resources