The grain bar functions like a pasta bar only it uses
various grains as a base.KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Two new concepts at Hallmark Co. headquarters—a grain bar and a flatbread station—offer healthy options to encourage customers to improve their diets, according to Christine Rankin, corporate foodservices manager. Rankin says health and wellness has become a major focus at the account in recent years.
“We just launched our second year of Hallmark Health Rewards, which is a health incentive program where employees can earn up to 250 points or $250 every year by making healthy choices in three categories,” Rankin says. “You can earn points by going for your requisite wellness screenings at the doctor or dentist. The second category is getting educated. The third category is you can earn points for diet and exercise.”
To contribute to this program, Rankin says her department has been coming up with new ways to offer healthier offerings. The department decided to focus on grains because of their superfood properties.
The grain bar has been integrated into a station called Creative Cuisine, which rotates on a weekly basis. The grain bar was installed as one of the concepts that rotates in and out. Customers choose one of three grains as the base of their dish. Monday, Wednesday and Friday offers one set of three grains, and Tuesday and Thursday offers a different set of three grains.
“It’s sort of like a pasta bar except we’re using different grains as a base,” Rankin says. “We’re using both red and white quinoa, farro, amaranth and wheat berries. Then we have a variety of toppings like chicken, tofu, shrimp, walnuts, roasted sweet potatoes, edamame, garbanzo beans and more. On our first day we sold 125 covers at the grain bar.”
Fun with flatbread: Rankin says another healthy option the café has introduced is a flatbread station. The station offers a one-portion, crisp crust flatbread with a variety of toppings. All portions are less than 300 calories with less than 14 grams of fat. Toppings include chicken, white bean and asparagus; Hawaiian ham with pineapple salsa; and salmon with capers and fennel.
“That’s been really popular,” Rankin says. “We’re doing about 150 to 160 covers of those per day.’”
Rankin says the department hasn’t really had much trouble purchasing the products necessary for each station. In fact, implementing both concepts was relatively easy.
“The information about grains is very much out there now, so it was easy for us to find it and pass it along to our customers,” Rankin says. “We only chose six grains and we didn’t have any trouble buying them. I’d say the toughest thing we had to do was eat a lot of flatbread. We aren’t making the crust so we had to try a bunch of different ones. I’ve just had tremendous feedback from people who are vegetarian and people saying they appreciate the variety.
“I think you need somebody dedicated to the flatbread station,” Rankin adds. “We have a chef working on it now and he is training someone else. There is definitely time involved in terms of the mise en place of the station. It takes a while to set up. [Both of these concepts] are new so we may run into things down the road.”