Paul Hubbard: Group Facilitator

During 2003-'04, renovations to the retail areas were undertaken and completed in line with administration's mandate to improve menu variety, speed customer throughput and increase seating capacity.

Retail operations now include:

-Marketplace Cafe, a multi-branded foodcourt that opened in November 2004 (replacing the former Windows Restaurant) as the main cafeteria, sporting brick-oven pizza, a grill, chef display cooking station and a shake-it-up salad station.

With approximately 4,500 employees working in the hospital, the 300 seats at the former Windows Restaurant were clearly inadequate. "We immediately added 220 seats by enclosing an outdoor patio," Hubbard explains. "This was pivotal (to our ability to serve) during the renovation as we took other areas under construction," he says.

A success by any standard, Marketplace Cafe now serves 4,800 to 5,200 customers daily (versus approximately 3,200 cafeteria customers in 2002) with a check average of about $3.53 (versus $2.32 in 2002).

-Skyline Deli, which opened in March 2004 to support customers during the renovation eliminating Windows. "It was intended as a temporary location, but it was so successful with its New York,style deli menu that it's now a permanent fixture," Hubbard says of the 640-square foot former vending location.

-Bookends, a satellite unit situated between the hospital and med school.

Data sharing: Through all retail units, modernization of the cash register system has positively impacted other areas that fall under Hubbard's purview. UPC-coded products can be scanned through the touch-screen registers, making transactions much faster and data collection much easier. "We can share the data from retail to some of our other computer systems," he points out.

"Production, for example, knows how many orders of chicken Marsala were sold today," he continues. "Those numbers are used to tell us what we need to purchase, (more than 3,000 items are kept in inventory) or prepare, and allows us to refine our menus almost instantaneously."

Faster customer throughput was instantly obvious,maybe too obvious at first. "I remember standing at the (Marketplace) entrance a few days after the opening and hearing the then-coo say in dismay, 'It looks empty!'" Hubbard says. "Meanwhile, every day we were breaking records set the previous day since our systems were allowing customers to move through without waiting. Plus, I had an e-mail within hours of closing each day showing that we were pushing more customers through faster and happier than ever before. It reinforced our belief that a good design, layout and menu mix would speed customers through the stations."

Hubbard can take satisfaction in knowing that he had a hand in making it happen since he spearheaded the team in its "request for information" task, and in researching the companies and equipment that most closely offered what they wanted. When prompted, he'll point to the Lucite doors on all walk-ins, the sections of walls covered in diamond plate, or perhaps the epoxy floors chosen to reduce accidents. These items, as well as almost every piece of equipment, passed through his hands, from the writing of the purchase order to working with construction crews.

Credit where due: Hubbard is quick to stress, however, the "team" nature of his department and the individual contributions of staff to the collective end-result and success. "It's a whole litany of things," he reflects. "There are so many important members of this team from bakers and porters to the management level. But I couldn't have done anything without a savvy, passionate leader such as Suzette Smookler, administrator for food and nutritional services; or Kathleen Werther, director of nutritional services, who is in charge of our room service program that debuted May 2; or our executive chef Eric Ingoglia."

"Then there's Kristen Berry, assistant director of retail services. She makes me look good," he continues. "She reports to me and is pivotal in the implementation of programs. In fact, retail and catering would not be as successful without Kristen. In 2002 we had 40,000 to 50,000 catering customers, but in 2006 it's between 90,000 and 100,000. We're on the cutting edge, offering everything from chocolate dipping fountains to pan-seared tuna. We are only as good as every single employee who works with us. We will keep growing again and again because of these very important people."

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