Patti Malloy: Banking on It

The creation of theme meals is left up to the individual accounts rather than being part of the contractor's designated calendar, and Malloy enjoys frequent brainstorming sessions with her associates to come up with the next event. "We usually run four culinary promos, or theme meals, each month to create excitement since I want our customers to really look forward to coming up," she explains.

For a recent TV Dinner Day promotion, "I ordered a few hundred aluminum, three-compartment trays that look just like the ones used for the old frozen TV dinners," Malloy reports. Chef Dave dug deep into the necessary research. "We menued Salisbury steak, boneless fried chicken and roast beef, all entrees that are reminiscent of that time," she says. "We put (his findings out on posters in the cafe where we also showed a movie during lunchtime that day.

"We also did a 'Half-Way To Thanksgiving Day' in May, offering a whole turkey dinner with stuffing. Our marketing message was: 'Why wait 185 days until the Big Feast?'"

Enhancing the brand: A Starbucks coffee kiosk has played a central role in helping to create the value-added perception Malloy strives for. She was instrumental in bringing the branded concept to the PNC Firstside account and has taken steps to enhance the offering at her headquarters cafe.

"When I arrived, it was already here on the 15th floor of Tower One, open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., but we soon added our own fresh bakery items," she explains. "Our baker produces tarts, scones, homemade muffins, pies and cakes. I can't resist her Black Cherry Black Forest Cake. And, for breakfast catering, the president of our bank loves her chocolate chip muffins. With the addition of these fresh bakery items, the kiosk is now generating about $800 in daily revenue."

Another Starbucks kiosk will soon open in the lobby of PNC Two Monday through Friday from 7 to 9 a.m. The objective is to capture breakfast coffee and bakery sales of guests who don't have time to make the trip to the 15th floor cafe of Tower One.

Fresh-baked pastries will also be prominently featured at the new lobby kiosk and are available for take-home in a Bakery-To-Go program that Malloy was instrumental in creating. The menu for that, as well as the full daily cafe listing, including special theme meals plus catering options, are accessible on-line. In addition, a print order form can be filled out and handed in at the bakery area.

Dining in: Although studies reflect that a growing number of customers are seeking items to carry out, Malloy's guests, by and large, prefer dining in. "Pre-made salads and sandwiches aren't going as well as those made-to-order at the deli line, which is very popular here," she says. "We offer many types of meat, a daily special, plus there's always a daily combo meal. We make our own tuna and chicken salad and loaves of bread are sliced in front of the guest."

At the grill there are four or five combos each day that are menued as value meals. In response to guest surveys that Malloy conducts twice a year, a value meal priced in the $3 to $4.25 range, perhaps a cheeseburger, fries and a drink, is now offered as well. "Again, this is an example of listening to guests and taking action," Malloy contends.

"To generate more business, I'm always out front, listening to their likes and dislikes. A couple of people were asking for hot turkey sandwiches; we'd done hot roast beef and carved ham, but people came out of the woodwork when we did that turkey. We'll probably add it to the six-week menu cycle."

Joining the circle: Malloy believes that getting involved in a wide circle of PNC Bank activities is also part of her mandate. Early last month, as the city of Pittsburgh hosted Major League Baseball's All Star Game, she and her team catered an event for about 150 ballplayers, celebrities and bank executives at the PNC Bank branch located within PNC Park. It was no small honor since Parkhurst Dining Services was chosen over two nationally branded concepts that operate eateries within the ballpark.

This summer, Malloy hopes to recharge her batteries by devoting quality time to her three children, ages 17, 16 and 11, and to her husband who, she confides, really appreciates her cooking, baking and especially her Grand Marnier creme brulee.

Meanwhile, drawing constant inspiration from her gardening (her "passion," she says) and from her extensive library of cookbooks, she's mentally gearing up for the opening of the new PNC Tower, slated for completion in 2008. She expects an additional 1,000 customers, mostly from PNC but also from a lead tenant whose employees will have access to the cafe.

"There's no talk yet about enlarging our location, so we'll wait and see what changes may be needed," she says. "Meanwhile, our client wants us to do grilling outside, so we'll aim to make that happen very soon."

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The University of New Mexico’s proposed on-campus taproom has officially been approved by the school’s Board of Regents.

Construction on the $650,000 student union taproom will begin this summer and is expected to finish in August when students return to campus. The school’s food vendor, Chartwells, and UNM’s Dining & Food Services department will split the cost of the taproom evenly.

Designed by students in the school’s architecture department, the space will feature a rotating selection of beer and wine, and will also welcome guest brewers. Chartwells will be...

Ideas and Innovation
cafeteria

Three years ago, Colonial School District in New Castle, Del., started a pilot supper program at its high school. The goal: To make sure the district’s students, 57% of whom are on free or reduced-priced meals, would not be hungry when school is done for the day.

Since its inception, the program has expanded to 12 schools and now provides afterschool meals to children participating in YMCA activities. And it's just one of many such programs popping up in districts throughout the country, as operators add supper to the list of daily meals they provide for students.

Building...
Ideas and Innovation
hydroponics

We put our hydroponic gardens in a spot where students can watch them grow, but at the same time it’s safe from being tampered with. At one of our elementary schools, the gardens are in the kitchen, but there’s a window where students can look in as they walk down the hallway. Some even stop to count how many cucumbers they see.

Ideas and Innovation
food snap

We started a 50-member vegan team in response to students expressing the need for more vegan options. Between our monthly meetings, students are asked to take photos of foods they eat in and out of the dining halls to give us a true picture of the kinds of things they like and the kinds of foods that cause disappointment. This exercise has sparked a lot of conversation and given us more insight into what we could do better.

FSD Resources