Julie Stewart, food service manager at the 4,700-employee SAS campus in Cary, N.C., has been guiding her team through a transition period as a result of the opening of a new executive briefing center, which caused many employee moves around campus. Stewart showed FSD around campus to learn more about her day-to-day routine.
9 a.m.: I meet Stewart at Building T, which is where her office is located. All the buildings on campus are lettered. The cafes are located in Buildings T, F, R and C. She says she usually arrives to campus about 8:30 a.m. or 9 a.m. Her first stop is one of the campus’s four cafés for breakfast.
“No day is really the same,” Stewart says. “When we just had one dining location there was pretty much a routine; that’s not the case anymore. My routine is meetings, meetings, meetings.”
The SAS campus has been in a period of transition with the opening of Building C, which is a new executive briefing and conference center that also includes the campus’s newest full-service café. Stewart says the opening of that building has caused many of employees to move.
“We had 400 people move out of [Building T] into Building C,” Stewart says. “So for a month we had less than 100 people in Building T. Then people started moving from other buildings over to Building T. Since March, we don’t know how many people are [in which building].”
The café in Building T is third in line for a renovation, says Stewart. The café features comfort food classics, a salad bar, soups, made-to-order sandwiches and sushi twice a week. Building T also is home to a new grab-and-go area.
“This grab-and-go area opened in July,” says Stewart. “We offer similar items to what we offer elsewhere, just in a condensed version. We’ve been doing about 250 transactions per day.”
Overall participation on campus is 58% for lunch, which is higher than the industry standard, according to Stewart.
11 a.m.: The next stop on the campus tour is Building F, which houses the campus’s training center and the largest café, where the department feeds about 700 people per day. Catering is also run out of the café in Building F.
“This building is 26 years old,” Stewart says. “We did a small renovation in 2005, but it still needs some work. The café’s menu itself is similar to Building T. We have a salad bar, two hot entrées and a deli with made-to-order sandwiches. We also have a grill in this location, which we don’t have in Building T. We don’t do a cycle menu; we prepare menus weekly. One thing we’ve found is that since the menu in our new building is so different, people who still like our traditional menus want to come back here and to Building T for those. We’re not going to change that because the customers have to feel like they can come home.”
Online ordering is available across campus so employees can order items from their offices and pick them up at their convenience. Customers also can order items such as deli meat, deli trays, pizzas and baked goods to take home. Also on view at Building F are the department’s efforts to grow its own herbs on an outside patio.
“The landscaping department plants herbs on several patios across campus that we can use,” Stewart says. “We have a farm on campus that supplies the on-campus hotel with local produce. The new building, Building C, also gets a pick of that produce. We can get what’s left over. We also are able to get local produce through our purchaser.”
1 p.m.: Stewart’s biggest project these days is the planned renovation for Building R. She had a meeting scheduled with the architects to look over the latest rendering in the hope that the project can move ahead and the team can show a rendering to SAS’s CEO. The building is 21 years old and the café in that location was originally just a satellite café.
“It’s not a full-service kitchen; most of the food comes from Building F,” Stewart says. “We originally thought we’d serve 300 people there, max. We’re feeding more than 600 there now. The thing that’s important to note about Building R is that it is the largest building on campus and houses about 1,300 people so the fact that it is not a full-service kitchen is a problem.”
The plan is to turn that café into a full-service café. The location currently features a five-story atrium where the café takes up one corner. Stewart says the plan calls for an expansion of the kitchen.
“The serving area is going to be marketplace style and we want to expand the dining area,” Stewart says. “We currently have 180 seats in there. We’ll wind up taking the entire atrium when the plans are done. It’s very ’80s with purple and teal now.”
Currently this café features a salad bar, two hot entrée areas and a rotating station that serves pizza and pasta two days a week, a Mexican bar on Thursdays and a specialty sandwich on Fridays.
3 p.m.: We finally arrive at the campus’s newest café at Building C, which is managed by Bon Appétit Management Co. The café opened in April. Stewart says they decided to bring in Bon Appétit because of the company’s local and sustainable efforts, since the building was SAS’s first attempt at a LEED-certified building. The café itself features made-to-order sushi, wood-fired pizzas, pastas stir-fry, made-to-order sandwiches, a large salad bar, a grill and daily desserts. There also is a large grab-and-go area for people on the run. The café features an expansive seating area with several different types of seating such as booths, large tables for big groups, long communal tables, and smaller high and low tables. Stewart says she hopes to bring the different types of seating from Building C to the renovation at Building R, especially the communal tables, which Stewart says she has been surprised to see have been a big success.