Diner-friendly design fix takes Steal This Idea prize

Published in FSD Update

By 
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)

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion
Richard cousins

Compass Group confirmed this morning that CEO Richard Cousins was killed on New Year’s Eve in a small-plane crash off the coast of Australia. He was 58.

Cousins was scheduled to step down as CEO in March, after leading the world’s largest foodservice management company for 11 years. His planned successor, Compass COO Dominic Blakemore, has agreed to assume Cousins’ duties immediately.

“We are deeply shocked and saddened by this terrible news,” Compass Chairman Paul Walsh said in a statement. “It has been a great privilege to know Richard personally and to work with him for...

Menu Development
to-go meals

Drew Allen didn’t hesitate when asked what he expects of noncommercial dining in the future. “Change,” he says. “We have to change with the times and what our guests are looking for.”

Allen, the director of culinary services at Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Choices in Lebanon, Ohio, says the more the residents and guests at Otterbein change, the more diverse eating habits his team has the chance to explore. One of those changing habits, he says, is diners’ growing desire for portable, made-to-order items . That’s a theme borne out by data, too—and is true across dayparts. Roughly 67%...

Ideas and Innovation
trail mix

We’ve added fueling stations in our units for our workers who didn’t have time to eat or just need a snack. We have areas set up with trail mix, crackers, cookies and water. It helps us avoid people feeling or getting ill, especially when we get closer to exam periods and student workers are studying and not taking the time to eat.

Ideas and Innovation
email

Communication is key, and [managers] are busy too. One tip I picked up from another director was to label my subject line with the header “action,” “information” or “response” followed by a brief description of the email contents. That way they can filter through their inboxes during their busy days to know which emails need their attention immediately and which they can save to read later.

FSD Resources