Diner-friendly design fix takes Steal This Idea prize

Published in FSD Update

Dana Moran, Managing Editor

wheelchair close up

An idea submitted by Damian Monticello, corporate hospitality services manager at Florida Blue, was named Steal This Idea champ at the MenuDirections conference Tuesday and awarded with an Amazon Echo. FoodService Director editors combed through many ideas, but ultimately chose Monticello’s for its simplicity and ingenuity.

Florida Blue voiced pride in a program that connected disabled diners with assistance, but found eligible customers were reluctant to call attention to themselves by seeking help. Monticello and his team met with Florida Blue’s employee resource group for people with disabilities to devise an alternative plan.

The practical change that came out of the meetings also was an easy one. Rather than stocking grab-and-go items horizontally on a single shelf, displays were made vertical.

“Now, a person in a wheelchair can reach that soda, salad or sandwich as easily as anyone else,” Monticello wrote.

Below are more of the FSD editors’ favorite MenuDirections Steal This Idea submissions:

From leftovers to new menu items

“We use our Menu Forward idea to empower our staff to develop menu items and keep our leftovers in check. Product left at the end of service may be claimed by any station to become part of a new item within six weeks. I’m happy to see my star team fighting for their ideas and products, the benefits to food cost is spot-on and my freezer has no mystery items lurking in the corner.” (From Mickey Sellard, Golden Living)

Allergy ambassador

“When potential students come to campus, we match them with a student from our allergy support group, and they tour our dining facilities. The ambassador helps the potential student to understand how they navigated campus with their food allergy. This showcases what we do for allergies on campus, and is a highly successful way to make the students feel good about dining.” (Lisa Eberhart, North Carolina State University)

Millennial meet-and-greet

“As we struggle to recruit and retain millennials, we had our current millennial employees invite friends who don’t work for our organization to a Q&A session where we find out why our organization is or isn’t appealing to them, and what they are looking for in an employer. I recommend doing this offsite in a casual environment so you can get honest and open feedback that could be useful for better marketing.”  (Drew Patterson, Wexner Medical Center)

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