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How a hospital opened a new cafe with a splash

Photograph courtesy of ProMedica

Before ProMedica Toledo Hospital officially opened the cafe and kitchen inside its new Generations of Care Tower, Executive Chef Hannah Robertson and her team had already served meals to around 5,000 people.

“We did a physicians opening, and then we did a VIP opening, and then we had a big opening for all of the [hospital] employees on the Friday before we opened,” Robertson says. “There's a lot of energy. I enjoy that rush of it and coming together as a team and working hard together.”

A weeklong lead-up

Robertson says relying on the greater ProMedica community made hosting these big events easier.

“We have quite a large support team, so whenever we do events like this, managers from all over the system will come and kind of help,” she says. “So because we've been doing it for so long, we're a pretty well-oiled machine as a team.”

The physicians opening and the VIP opening both featured a seafood station, which included oysters and shrimp and a big ice carving of the new tower. At a charcuterie station, staff stacked cheese wheels to look like a cake and decorated them with herbs and spreads that “cascaded down onto the table,” Robertson says.

Robertson and her team rounded out the events’ offerings with a butterfly-themed dessert station, which was decided upon because “[butterflies] represent change,” she says.

Opening day was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting and a variety of activities for employees and guests. Staff could participate in a prize drawing, and visitors were able to pick up a passport card they could use to earn a free entree by purchasing something from each station at the cafe within the month.

Maintaining the momentum

Feedback on the cafe has been good so far, Robertson says. Because they’ve heard that some customers miss certain dishes from the old cafe, Robertson hopes to eventually host “Throwback Thursdays” or something similar to periodically bring back former favorites.

For now, Robertson says that customers have a lot to look forward to. The team is about to enter the third rotation of its menu cycle and will be introducing new dishes, including plant-based options.

People just love it when they walk in and we've got slightly different offerings, which we’re continuing to expand on. —Hannah Robertson

A portobello mushroom burger will make its debut over at the grill, and diners will be able to top their salads with balsamic oven-roasted vegetables, in addition to the current offerings of salmon or chicken.

“We're really enjoying the space—it's beautiful,” Robertson says. “People just love it when they walk in and we've got slightly different offerings, which we’re continuing to expand on.”

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