Most days, the salad bar that attracts crowds during lunch was almost empty at breakfast time at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. As stocked for the morning daypart, it offered just a couple of yogurt flavors, some cut melon and cottage cheese, and didn’t really excite customers, says Kari Doffing, Memorial's operations manager. Recently, as part of a café renovation, foodservices looked to increase its sales in that area by re-designing the morning bar to attract more business.

“Now, when customers first walk in, they see something completely different," Doffing says, referring to the new, build-your-own yogurt parfait concept that was added. Its display, enhanced with merchandising materials provided by the yogurt manufacturer, offers customers "an appealing and healthy presentation, with nice colors, bright signage and even cool spoons," he adds.  Structured as a Yoplait-branded concept, the bar offers several types of yogurt, including Greek, and a variety of toppings and add-in ingredients that encourage customization.

The upgrade's success shows in the numbers. The old bar sold about 10 servings each day. The new version is moving more than 40 servings per day, at 40 cents an ounce.

Customers build their parfaits in clear plastic 9 oz. or 12 oz. cups  but pre-made parfaits are also available in the cooler for grab-and-go. (Parfaits are also on the patient menu, in the 9 oz. size). Recipe cards are placed around the parfait bar with suggested combos such as a tropical parfait or a mixed berry parfait. 

Doffing says that three flavors of yogurt are offered in long pans and that the operation has experimented with fresh fruit vs. frozen vs. canned. While fresh fruit has gotten the most positive response, frozen and canned also move well. Toppings options include cereal, slivered almonds, dried fruit, granola, unsalted sunflower seeds and even wasabi peas (some people like them with the plain yogurt!)

The program fits perfectly with the hospital’s “Be Fit” wellness initiative, Doffing notes, adding that while some commercial frozen yogurt shops make their mark with candy toppings and syrups, those will never be part of this program.

“People eating healthy in healthcare is just a huge focus right now all over the country,” Doffing says.