How to avoid opening day roadblocks

grand opening stamp

The ability to adjust on the fly is a key job requirement for any foodservice manager, but doing so during the stress of opening a new facility could be described as an art. “After you’ve worked for a number of years, you get that sixth sense of how to adjust quickly,” says Scott Almy, director of dining room services at Morningside Ministries Community in Boerne, Texas.

Days before opening a new dining room at the senior living community, Almy and his staff discovered that sufficient prep space had not been accounted for. A wheeled table was brought in, but a visit from the health department found the table took up too much room in the small kitchen.

Fortunately, the solution was a straightforward one: bringing in a smaller table instead of gutting part of the space to reconfigure. “It seems obvious, but it goes with my philosophy of ‘keep it simple,’” says Almy. Careful planning—and quick problem-solving—can help avoid the unforeseen pitfalls of a renovation.

Plan, plan, plan

The blueprints for a new dining hall at Berklee College of Music in Boston had been in place for four years, but after the opening in 2013, staff realized there were not enough clean dishes for the dining floor. Plans had called for one dish machine for the two floors of student dining. “We quickly saw this wasn’t going to work,” says Jessica Mackool, general manager of dining services for Aramark.

The fix: Adding a ventless dish machine to ease the strain without drastically altering the infrastructure. “The architect’s plans are thought through with the best intentions, but you’ve got to be realistic when something doesn’t work,” Mackool says.

Getting it right

At the Forest at Duke, a retirement community in Durham, N.C., the biggest issue was not the reopening of the dining rooms but how staff adjusted during construction. Residents had high expectations of the dining service, and didn’t want that to change their routines while upgrades were being made.

The fix: “We converted our auditorium into a huge dining room and worked closely with Morrison Community Living to make sure the food and service were up to our high standards,” Forest at Duke CEO Anita Holt says. “It showed me that with the right people, equipment and attitude you can turn just about anywhere into a dining room.”

Count on your friends

Connections are just one advantage of being part of a large foodservice operation. When Mackool first was consulted about the plans for Berklee’s new dining hall, she worked closely with Aramark to make sure the staff wasn’t overwhelmed by a crush of diners curious about the new facility. “I was able to have six executive chefs from our region come to help at the opening, plus we had plenty of marketing, catering and front-of-the-house support,” she says. 

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
fish tacos

From High Liner Foods.

Younger consumers are driving an increased focus on sustainability, and more consumers overall are demanding a wider variety of seafood on menus. With shifting interest in seafood, operators need to be familiar with the seafood consumer—who they are, what they’re looking for and when they eat it—to more effectively boost interest in seafood dishes.

Understand consumer habits

Technomic’s 2017 Center of the Plate: Seafood & Vegetarian report finds that 65% of consumers eat seafood at least occasionally (once every 90 days or more), either as an...

Industry News & Opinion

The Missouri House of Representatives has initially approved a bill that would enable students with dietary issues to forgo mandatory meal plans at public colleges and universities, U.S. News reports.

Approved Tuesday, the bill would grant students with medical documentation of food sensitivities, food allergies or medical dietary issues the right to opt out of meal plans.

Supporters of the bill say it will allow students to not have to pay for food they can’t safely eat, while opponents say that the bill will negatively impact schools financially. According to legislative...

Industry News & Opinion

A study released by Sodexo indicates that gender-balanced management improves team performance.

The 2018 study is an expansion of a previous Sodexo study that launched in 2014. The expanded study analyzed 50,000 managers in all levels of management from 70 entities around the world over five years.

The study found that teams managed by 40% to 60% women had better employee and client retention, saw fewer workplace accidents and increased their operating margins and employee engagement.

Industry News & Opinion

Rick Farmer, executive chef for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and Stephanie Powers, executive chef of Spring Harbor, a retirement community in Columbus, Ga., were crowned the winners of MenuDirections’ 2018 Culinary Competition.

Split into teams of two, chefs had 60 minutes to prepare and plate their own entrees using a preselected basket of ingredients such as beans, mushrooms and orange sauce. Each dish was judged on its presentation, taste and creativity.

The winning dish was orange glazed pork with a black bean and wild mushroom cake topped...

FSD Resources