A new café in a hospital can be a participation booster not only among existing onsite staff but can also bring in outsiders. That’s what Indianapolis Community Hospital South and its dining services provider Aramark found after opening the remodeled Bamboo Café a couple years ago.

Featuring a pizza/calzone station with a stone hearth oven along with a sauté station, a soup station, grill, deli and salad station, Bamboo Café draws up to 650 diners a day just for lunch, a fair number there just for the food.

"We are strongly focused on the guest experience and we get lots of word of mouth from former patients," says General Manager Wilson Turner. "That also leads to some catering opportunities."

Bamboo Cafe's highly popular deli/salad station offers custom creations featuring some 50 ingredient choices while the soup station offers both meat and vegetarian options daily.

The sauté station rotates a series of cuisine approaches, from pasta to Asian stir frys to Southwestern to even Middle Eastern favorites. Desserts are made in house by a former French pastry chef, who will create seasonal specials such as a buche de Noel (a traditional French Christmas log).

"The sauté station has been a big hit," Turner says. "We will do cooking demos there and that's also where we set up a carver and where we serve our own smoked meats."

Bamboo Café is open from 6:30 am to 7 pm but also has an after-hours component that offers grab-and-go sandwiches and salads. Breakfast service includes fresh pastries, hot choices like breakfast burritos to order, breakfast pizza, waffles and made-to-order omelets. It can draw up to 200 a day.

Aramark also provides room service style patient dining for the 160-bed hospital. The patient dining menu features specialties like a monthly grill promotion such as a herb roasted pork loin, along with plenty of seasonal vegetable options.