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

Ideas and Innovation
unsung heroes graphic

Febin Bellamy, a senior at Georgetown University, is the founder of Unsung Heroes, a nonprofit that features service workers on college campuses in man-on-the-street-style Facebook interviews. This year, Bellamy is working with a dozen schools to launch their own chapters of the storytelling platform. Here’s what he’s learned about staff shoutouts.

Q: Why did you decide to start Unsung Heroes?

A: One day I started a conversation with a custodial worker in the business school that I would see all the time. I learned that we had a lot of similarities; for instance, we both wanted to...

Ideas and Innovation
bolognese sauce

We’re trying to bring scratch cooking to all the elementary schools, but we’re taking it dish by dish. Right now, we satellite a lot of the dishes out. This month we made a Bolognese from scratch, and went to each of the schools to talk to them about the process and see if they could implement it. It helps us find out the hurdles and what they are going to need to make it work.

Ideas and Innovation
rolling silverware

Ensuring that employees regularly complete the busywork missing from their daily checklist can be a challenge, but these tasks often help an operation run efficiently with fewer unexpected costs. At Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., Regional Executive Chef Dustin Cochran has found a solution to ensure his walk-in coolers always have a clean vent. Cochran starts with a thorough cleaning of the vent, then slips a hairnet over it to catch the dust. Instead of getting employees to deep clean the vents, they need only replace the hairnet.

Ideas and Innovation
chicken and waffles

Our elementary menu is currently riding the breakfast-anytime advertising trend by offering Breakfast for Lunch every Tuesday. It ranks as our highest participation, and it was a great way for us to introduce chicken and waffles inspired by an IHOP dish.

FSD Resources