Buffalo hospital opens new café

erie county medical center

The Erie County Medical Center, in Buffalo, N.Y., this summer unveiled a new dining facility that administrators hope will become a healthy destination for area residents. Great Lakes Café, with 370 seats, opened on the second floor of the 525-bed hospital. It features seven stations offering a variety of cuisines.

“We looked at the community on the outside and we said we really need to offer concepts as diverse as the folks who are coming into the hospital,” says Steve Hotz, foodservice director for Morrison, which manages the hospital’s foodservice. “The key aspect here was to offer a wide range of nutritious dining options. If you look around the neighborhood, there really isn’t a good healthy dining option in the area.”

Great Lakes’ seven stations are: Austin Grille, a Tex-Mex-inspired concept on the order of Chipotle or Moe’s; 2 mato, an Italian concept; Create, an exhibition station with rotating cuisines where items are made to order; Morrison Classic, an area where comfort foods are offered; SO Deli; Crisp, a salad bar; and The Bake Shop by Rich Products Corp.

“Austin Grille has really been the main attraction so far,” says Hotz, noting that an average of 60% of customers are stopping there. “But we expect that as customers keep coming back they’ll be visiting more stations for the variety.”

To try to attract community support, the medical center has created a postcard that all visitors receive.

“Every guest that checks in at the front desk receives this postcard flyer of Great Lakes Café,” Hotz says. “It’s a beautiful color flyer that outlines all that the café has to offer. It’s a little bit bigger than 5-by-7 [inches], so it’s not a little handout.”

Another marketing tool the hospital will be employing will be a celebrity chef series at the Create station. The first event, this month, was with Chef Jet Tila cooking a host of Asian specialties.

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