Strong’s renovation helped eliminate long lines. Nearly 40 years after the main cafeteria at Strong Memorial Hospital, in Rochester, N.Y., opened, it received its first makeover. But it was a big one. The hospital spent nearly $6 million to create Café 601, which opened earlier this year. Al Caldiero, director of food & nutrition services, says the renovation solved a major problem, one of traffic flow. “When the café was opened, the hospital had 2,500 employees,” Caldiero notes. “We now have 10,000 in the medical center alone. Aside from the antiquated equipment in the kitchen and servery, we had a horrific flow problem.”
Caldiero, working with SWBR Architects, originally came up with a plan to expand the kitchen and dining area by some 2,500 square feet. That idea was rejected by administrators because of cost.
“So we needed to figure out how to widen the space to fit 3,000 customers a day while maintaining the same footprint,” Caldiero says. “So the architects came up with an idea to blow out the walls to the back of the house and create an open kitchen. I had wanted more interaction between staff and customers, so it worked perfectly.”
The servery went from three stations, which often led to long queues, to six main stations along with self-serve fruit and salad bars. The six manned stations are Creation Station, which features world cuisines in a made-to-order format; a traditional deli; a traditional grill; a pizza station; a pasta station; and a Homestyle station that serves comfort foods. The “neatest” addition to the open kitchen, according to Caldiero, is a high-speed rotisserie, from which 100 chickens a day are cooked.
“Our main focus is to promote healthier choices,” Caldiero notes, “but we haven’t eliminated anything.
“Thus far, sales are up 20% over the old cafeteria.