Sushi, deli bring big bucks to hospital café

sushi to go

Two new retail outlets at Florida Hospital Orlando are reaping dividends for the food and nutrition department. Sushi and a deli concept, 601 Deli, have brought incremental business to the hospital since they were introduced last fall, says Neal Lavender, director of food and nutrition at the 1,183-bed hospital.

Lavender explains that the department contracted with AFC Sushi to install a sushi station in Welch Cafeteria, the largest of the hospital’s three foodservice outlets. AFC Sushi, based in Dominguez Hills, Calif., says it is the largest supplier of sushi to supermarkets in the country

The sushi is prepared fresh daily at a central location and delivered to the hospital.

“We do a variety of sushi and sashimi daily, including vegetarian,” Lavender says. “We use both brown and white rice, and we’re generating $30,000 to $35,000 a month in revenue.”

He adds that the cafeteria had sold sushi previously, but it was not made fresh. “Our customers did not prefer it,” he says. “We wanted something that provided a fresh product, is innovative, increases quality and adds flair to the customer dining experience.”

In addition to sales in the cafeteria, the department delivers 80 boxes of sushi a day to the doctors’ lounge.

“We’re talking about adding new locations,” Lavender adds, reflecting on the concept’s success.

While AFC Sushi is a franchise, 601 Deli is an in-house concept, conceived by Lance Patterson, retail manager for Welch Cafeteria.

“We created the concept and all of the sandwiches and wraps are ‘home-grown,’” Lavender notes. “What we did was take our deli area, move it to the front door and make it bigger and brand it. We also brand our menu items; every item is named after an employee or a hospital location, and the employees take pride in that.”

Lavender adds that the deli is projected to rake in $587,000 in annual revenue.

“Both concepts promote healthier lifestyles as well as fresh, made-to-order gourmet foods,” he says. “This is exactly what our customers have been asking for.”

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