New Microsoft Cafés Go Ultra High-tech

Published in FSD Update

Microsoft Corp.’s foodservice department recently renovated three of its 28 cafés at the Redmond, Wash., headquarters campus. According to Paul Egger, senior services director for Microsoft Real Estate & Facilities, this is the start of a remodel cycle that will eventually see all of the older cafés getting fresh faces. Egger says the renovations are designed to stem the tide of declining participation in the older cafés.

The goal at Microsoft is to save time because, as we all know, time is money. It is the company’s contention that cafés that offer customers high-quality food at reasonable prices keep Microsoft employees from leaving campus for lunch or dinner, and technology that moves them through the café faster gets them back to their desks that much more quickly, saves the technology giant big bucks.

“For every 1% increase in participation, we save Microsoft $4 million a year in lost productivity,” Egger notes.

In addition to changing the model for the cafés from commissary driven to from-scratch preparation, each of the redone dining spaces is being outfitted to satisfy a cashless society. Each station with a “new” café now has its own touchscreen ordering kiosk. Not only can Microsoft employees order their food electronically, they also can—actually, are expected to—pay for it at the same time they order. 

Those staffers who don’t have time to stand around waiting for their food to be prepared can order and pay for their food online from their desks, with the ability to designate a time at which to pick up their order.

Cashiers haven’t disappeared, Egger says. Instead, they have been transformed into “ambassadors” who walk the serveries and dining areas assisting customers who have questions or need help working the new technology.

As far as food options, the renovated cafés feature a mix of local restaurant concepts and house-created brands. Each café will have one signature station, as well. For example, the new Café 16 has a French-themed espresso station called Café au Lait. Café 31 has a Mongolian grill called Flattop 31 and Café 43 sports a Latin concept called Fuego. 

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