HERSHEY, Pa.—As part of a new contract with Morrison Management Specialists, 428-bed Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center has renovated a café into a franchise Au Bon Pain location. According to Leatriana England, senior foodservice director with Morrison, the new Au Bon Pain at the College of Medicine has been successful because the location offers a wider variety of healthy foods.
“One of the biggest reasons [we went with the Au Bon Pain] was that a lot of the satellite cafeterias [in the hospital] were small and offered a lot of the day-to-day things,” England says. “We wanted to bring in healthier and fresher items. The ABP really helps. Not that everything on the menu is healthy, but it definitely has a lot of benefits, as well as offering the nutritional analysis of all the menu items.”
The menu is similar to other Au Bon Pain locations, with sandwiches, salads and soups making up the bulk of the offerings. Bread is baked fresh daily on site and most orders are prepared to order. “I think the ABP introduced a different style of eating,” England says. “We’re Pennsylvania Dutch so [our customers] are used to a lot of heavy items, so this has introduced [new food items] and made the eating style more diverse. And we try to educate the customers on a variety of different menu options rather than just the comfort foods that they were used to like mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese. We have a wide variety and it has helped change the eating habits.”
One way the Au Bon Pain has helped change eating habits, according to England, is making more items to order with fresh ingredients. The previous café was pizza and hot dog heavy. In addition, the location offers a wider variety of options, including 12 soups each day, which helps cater to different customer populations, such as vegetarians or vegans. “Previously there were only two soup options, so if you were looking for a vegan option you probably would not find it,” she adds. “This is also a vegan-focused menu, which allows us to accommodate a variety of diverse customers.”
Since opening the Au Bon Pain in February, England says the location is serving between 300 and 500 more customers each day.
Foodservice Director - Au Bon Pain - Morrison - Hershey Medical Center“We also wanted to establish a franchise within the hospital that was known to the visitors, patients and employees,” England says. “The ABP opened up the space. It really became a more inviting eating location for the campus. For a state-of-the-art medical center, I think that the cafeterias just really have not represented what the medical center was all about. This was an opportunity to begin the transition in both the cafeterias and the eating experience at the hospital.”
England says the previous café was dark and cluttered. “With the ABP we opened it up,” she adds. “Fresh pastries are displayed. The seating is more of an upscale seating area. There is Internet access. People can come in and it’s more inviting and designed with more of a café style than a regular cafeteria.”
The Au Bon Pain isn’t the only one of the hospital’s seven retail location that is receiving a face-lift. The main cafeteria will undergo a $1 million renovation, which started last month. The renovation will bring in concepts such as Weight Watchers and Flavors 450, a Morrison Healthcare concept featuring healthy foods. England hopes the renovation will be finished by the year’s end. In addition, patient foodservice will transition from a traditional trayline to Catering To you, Morrison’s room service program, in October.