Destination Restaurant in a Hospital
WINNER: AKRON (OH) SUMMA HEALTH
Entry: Virtues Restaurant
The Big Idea: The healthcare segment has been undermining the stereotyped notion of "hospital food" with a variety of strategies ranging from high-caliber executive chefs overseeing food programs to hotel-style (and -quality) room service dining for patients. But Summa Health has gone an extra mile in melding fine dining and hospital environments with Virtues, a chic 134-seat sit-down eatery featuring a highend menu, valet parking and even a baby grand piano. The restaurant is intended not only as an onsite alternative for staff and visitors looking for an upscale dining option, but as a destination eatery for the surrounding community. As such, it offers the dining services department a way to extend its reach into a premium area not usually associated with a hospital setting. With a check average of almost $9.50 and over 200 daily covers, Virtues has proven to be an impressive revenue generator for the foodservice department. Open for lunch and dinner every day except Sunday, it has an open kitchen that allows guests to see their food being prepared. Virtues also functions as a demonstration kitchen for cooking classes and for featuring guest chefs.
Project Team: Summa Health System—Don Smith (Director-Food, Nutrition & Retail Services), Frank Zifer (Chef), Bud Truax (Director-Construction Dept.); Amador Gonzales of Hasenstab Architecture (architect); Renee Lanza (interior design); SS Kemp & Co.—Ann Smith (kitchen design), Anne Ladd (tabletop design); Gale Sipe of Turner Construction Co. (project manager)
An Alternative to the Food Court Salad Bar
WINNER: UCLA ASSOCIATED STUDENTS
The Big Idea: The usual "green" alternative in a branded retail food court is a salad bar. However, at UCLA, student surveys showed a demand for a more sophisticated alternative in the school's Terrace Food Court, where nationally branded Panda Express, Rubio's and Sbarro concepts are the main attractions. Hence Greenhouse, an internally developed concept situated on an island in the middle of the food court. It operates as a self-serve "by the ounce" station with multiple service points such as a baked potato bar, a gourmet soup bar, a fresh fruit bar and organic hot whole grain and pasta bar. Greenhouse also emphasizes sustainability and uses biodegradeable and recyclable products. Daily customer counts have been running over 1,000, as opposed to an average of 500-800 at similar standalone concepts on campus, while average daily sales are $6,000, almost double the average.
Project Team: Bob Williams (Executive Director-ASUCLA), Cindy Bolton (Food Service Director), Roy Champawat (Student Union Director), Manyee Lieu (Food Service Senior Designer); Art Manni of RW Smith & Co. (design consultant); Eddie Bitton of Eddie Bitton Design (interior design)
A la Carte Modelled on a Different Kind of QSR
WINNER: ST. PAUL (MN) PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Entry: Good to Go
The Big Idea: A la carte is a double-edged sword in the K-12 foodservice environment. On the one hand, it generates revenues by offering saleable food and beverage choices. Unfortunately, it often does this while undercutting the nutrition message of the school lunch program because of its reliance on typical fast food and snack food choices. But the Good to Go program at St. Paul Schools has tackled this problem by modeling itself on teen-popular fast casual concepts like Panera Bread and Chipotle Grill instead of the traditional QSR chains with their nutritiously dubious menu standards. The reference point shift has allowed Good to Go to menu foods associated with such restaurants, choices that are a lot healthier than traditional fast food (the few less healthy options available are sold in portion-controlled packages). Indeed, Good to Go's menu of salads, sandwiches, soups and sides, when purchased in the right combination, qualify for federal reimbursement, thus opening the "a la carte" line to free/reduced students for the first time.
Participation in the lunch program where Good to Go has been implemented (the program is currently only in the district's seven high schools) has increased 4.18 percent, over four times higher than at other district schools. Other advantages of the program include bolstering the district's wellness policy, helping promote nutrition awareness overall among students and bringing positive attention to the school nutrition program.
Project Team: Jean Ronnei (Nutrition Services Director), Pat Mergens (High School Coordinator), Dianne Wortz (Project Manager), Monica Bunde (Nutrition Center Manager), Dennis Schaffhausen (Nutrition Center Supervisor); Tom Whitney of Pixidis (marketing services)