ANGELO MOJICA has improved foodservice at UNCH by:
• BOOSTING skills and morale of staff through regular communication and educational programs such as Black Hat Chefs
• ENHANCING patient menus and service in a way that has led to a more than 70-percentage-point increase in patient satisfaction
• CREATING a self-branded retail program that is expected to generate $10 million in revenue this year
• DEVELOPING a patient room service program called Restaurant Delivery that makes use of UNCH’s retail menus
Angelo Mojica, UNC HealthcareWhen reviewing Angelo Mojica’s seven-year career at the University of North Carolina Hospitals, there are a few things you could single out as his most impressive accomplishment. You could consider his ability to turn around a patient foodservice program that once had Press-Ganey scores in the 11th percentile into one that now has realistic expectations of reaching the 90th percentile.
You could point out the 13 branded retail concepts he and his staff have created to serve the five hospitals in the UNCH system, which combined are expected to generate more than $10 million in revenue this year. You could even highlight his newest venture, which has been to make his retail foodservice the foundation for a new patient room service program called Restaurant Delivery.
But if you ask the director of food and nutrition services what he considers his biggest achievement, his answer speaks to something a bit more intangible.
“No. 1 is the team that we’ve built here,” Mojica says, with little hesitation. “For the first time in my career, 20-some years of doing this, I feel like we have a team of people, not just management and employees. We’ve built some really good relationships with team members, and hourly workers no longer feel that we’re the bad guys.”
Mojica’s belief is borne out by some hard data. He says that in the most recent employee opinion surveys, his department’s scores have ranked higher than any other support services department. But Mojica prefers to measure the strength of his team by actions, rather than numbers.
Duty calls: For example, on the day that he was to be interviewed for this profile, Mojica’s plans for a ‘typical’ day of meetings, phone calls and operation tours were waylaid by a balky dishwasher.
“I walked into the kitchen to 20 carts full of dishes,” he explains. “There was no way we were going to make it through breakfast. So I get my chef coat on, my executive chef gets his coat on, my director of staff development gets ready and we all start washing dishes. All of a sudden three hourly employees walked up and said, ‘Can we help?’ That’s the attitude our employees have, that we can all work together.
“When we launched Restaurant Delivery [UNCH’s room service program], it was the same thing. My managers were working 80 hours a week getting ready for this,” he added. “Three days into the program I sat them down and said, ‘You guys are really exhausted. We’ve done three 16-hour days in a row. Let’s figure out how we can get you some half days. To a person, they said, ‘No, we can’t do that. We’re not ready yet. We need this to be better before we can [take time off.]’”
Shawn Dolan, UNCH’s executive chef, says Mojica’s own attitude is a spark for his employees.
“Angelo has just one speed, and he is always turned on,” says Dolan. “He is a great driver for our department, always talking us up to our administrators. He encourages us to grow as a team and to stretch our abilities.”
Mojica says employee attitude is the most critical component of UNCH’s success because without it the program can’t follow Mojica’s mantra, which is “Serve great food. Give great customer service.”
Mojica says he has won over most of his hourly employees by doing two simple things: communicating with them on a regular basis and instructing rather than ordering.
“I use the example of ‘Sesame Street,’” says Mojica. “On ‘Sesame Street,’ you have the people and the puppets, but the people don’t tell the puppets what to do. They just guide them. That’s how our managers should be. When you have a problem, we help you fix it. I can help you get over a hurdle or find the right person to help you achieve that.”
Mojica’s culinary staff has improved through UNCH’s Black Hat Chef program, which helps cooks improve their culinary skills, as well as their marketability and their chances of growing within the organization. (For more on Black Hat Chefs, click here)
All about the retail: Winning over his employees has allowed the department to improve overall performance on a program built around a retail component. Because the five hospital, 800-bed system is part of the university system, foodservice prior to Mojica’s arrival was at the mercy of university administrators.
“We have a cancer hospital, a neurosciences hospital, a women’s hospital, a children’s hospital and the main hospital,” he explains. “All are connected by a common concourse. We used to have just a 400-seat cafeteria in a university building—really big, really ugly. When the children’s hospital opened the department put in another café, and then a Wendy’s and then a coffee concept. Then they put another concept in the cancer hospital. So they had the big cafeteria and four smaller spaces.”
But shortly before Mojica arrived, the university—which was growing—decided it needed the space and reclaimed the building, including the cafeteria. So the new foodservice director inherited four retail spaces, all of which were contracted out.
Mojica responded by slowly taking over the spaces and remaking them in the department’s own image of retail. The four venues now house 13 self-branded concepts that offer everything from comfort foods to sushi. Mojica says the retail outlets generate $3,500 a day in revenue and have been so well received that some of the concepts have been replicated at UNCH’s sister system, Rex Healthcare.
“One of the neatest things that happened when we took our brands and plugged them in at Rex was, the health inspector said, ‘Can you tell me the parent company of Mezza Luna?’, which is our salad concept,” Mojica recalls. “We said, ‘we are the parent company,’ and he said, ‘I know you operate it, but I need to know whose concept this is.’ He couldn’t believe that we had created it.”
Delivering to patients and staff: If Mojica has any complaints about his retail program, it is that the spaces are basically maxed out in terms of the number of customers that the spaces can accommodate. To deal with this issue, the department has placed on the drawing board plans for a delivery service program for staff.
“We’ve had people tell us things like, ‘we really love your shrimp and grits,’” Angelo relates, “‘but it takes too much time to go down there to get it. But we’d be willing to pay $2 to have food delivered to us.’ So we’re going to see if that is really true.”
But Mojica’s team hasn’t ignored patient foodservice while boosting retail, and Press Ganey scores are a testament to that.
“We’re probably going to end this year in the high ‘80s,” says Mojica. “Slowly, steadily, we’ve done different things to make the patient food better and better, and I feel sure that by the beginning of next year we’ll be solidly in the 90th percentile and shooting for the 99th.”
Part of that belief stems from the confidence he has that UNCH’s version of room service, called Restaurant Delivery, will be a hit. (For more on Restaurant Delivery, click here)
Mojica says that once all the components of Restaurant Delivery are in place, two other goals will move to the top of his list. One is to take UNCH’s retail concepts and “essentially franchise [them] to other AHF hospitals or other hospitals, period.”
“We would also like to take the Black Hat Chef program a step further and make an associate’s degree program right here in our kitchen,” says Mojica. “When we created Black Hat Chefs we thought some people were going to take their skills and leave, but they’re not. They’re staying, and they’re growing within the organization.”