Penton Media’s Food Management magazine has announced the winners of its 2011 “Best Concept” awards competition. The annual program recognizes exceptional achievement and innovation in key areas of noncommercial foodservice, as judged by Food Management’s editorial staff.
Categories range from initiatives in new and renovated foodservice facility design to menu innovation, wellness initiatives, special event planning and convenience retailing. The awards will be featured in a special editorial section of the August issue of Food Management and will be presented during the awards banquet at the magazine’s annual IDEAS Conference on September 26-28 at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, TX.
The top honor for “Best of Show” in 2011 was awarded to the University of Colorado at Boulder to recognize the multi-year efforts its dining department has made to enhance its culinary expertise, operational efficiency and customer service programs. These efforts, which include the adaptation of some lean manufacturing principles, laid the groundwork for the department’s program execution in its new C4C dining hall, which has truly become a showplace on the college campus and is also being recognized as the competition’s Best New Facility.
Individual category winners from the FM Best Concepts awards program are as follows:
Best of Show/Best New Facility
University of Colorado Boulder: The University of Colorado-Boulder’s new Center for Community dining hall (C4C) employs a sophisticated use of space and design to create highly individualized dining environments and ambiences keyed to specific international food themes and station concepts. The menu development and culinary execution for these stations is also highly customized, yet efficient, in part due to well thought out central prep, production and logistics strategies.
The Atrium at Eickhoff (The College of New Jersey)
The product of a $5.8 million two-phase project that updated a 1992 vintage dining hall to better serve today’s students, Eickhoff has increased transactions by 29% (over 170,000) and sales nearly 22% (over $1 million) since the opening of the new facility. The Sodexo-operated facility has been instrumental in boosting voluntary meal plan purchases by over 17%. The renovation was recognized for its spectacular, colorful design and its variety of vibrant serving stations.
Best Service Concept
The Ohio State University Medical Center, for “Ernie’s Café”.
Ernie’s Café is a sit-down restaurant with a restaurant-style menu that allows patients at the medical center’s dedicated rehabilitation hospital to eat in a comfortable, quality, communal environment. Ernie’s customized service model has promoted consumption of food among a patient group where that is sometimes a worry. By using a foodservice environment to help the hospital address the problem of depression and alienation that some rehab patients feel during their extended stays at such facilities, OSUMC demonstrated the innovative role that foodservices can play in the healthcare environment.
Best Management Company Corporate Concept
Sodexo Corporate Services’ “Be...” Program.
Be… is a site enhancement program for Sodexo B&I clients worldwide (it’s now in 23 countries) that turns a café into a flexible and relaxing space for customers and a value-added amenity for clients. It was recognized for its adaptability (40 dining options), harmony with current cultural trends and success in building participation (10-15% increase on average), check average (8% increase) and customer satisfaction.
Best Wellness Initiative
Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center’s “500 Club”.
The 500 Club is a healthy eating program developed by Gundersen dietitians and doctors that helps consumers identify healthier choices. Of particular note, this concept was extended into the medical center’s larger community through a partnership it established with the Kwik Trip c-store chain and with many local restaurants, including some fast food chains. With Kwik Trip, for example, Gundersen tags menu items and meals that meet 500 Club criteria with its certification. The program was recognized for effectively extending a healthful eating program into the community in a high-profile way while also getting promotional value for Gundersen as a community-centered healthcare services provider.
Best Special Event
Stephen F. Austin State University’s African Food Festival.
The African Food Festival in the spring of 2010 was a product of teamwork between the school’s dining services department, its contract service provider, Aramark, the school’s Multicultural Affairs Dept. and student group Africans@Heart. Together, they developed an Africa-themed event that featured authentic dishes from different regions of the continent. It was recognized for going beyond the traditional “monotony breaker” function by emphasizing a strong educational component and food execution with a high degree of sophistication (the dishes were authentic and used ingredients that were carefully sourced). It also helped build relationships within the campus community.
Best Menu Concept
Restaurant Associates at Credit Suisse in NYC for “Outtakes Nibbles.”
Nibbles is a snack program for the afternoon that offers a simpler themed menu than the lunch served earlier. It includes Asian bites, sliders, quesadillas as well as assorted hummus, olives, cheese, etc., that serve either as a lunch alternative for those who couldn’t eat earlier or as an afternoon pick-me-up. Customers reportedly wait for the Nibbles bar to be set up after lunch, and the revamped Outtakes that includes Nibbles have helped boost sales 61% and participation almost 28%. The selection especially appeals to vegetarian/vegan customers. Nibbles was recognized for offering a “grazing” menu that draws participation on its own merits as quality food, driving sales at a time of day when many B&Is see mostly “dead air.”
Best Convenience Retailing Concept
University of North Texas’ “Khush Roti” mobile cart.
Khush Roti offers a menu of sophisticated, internationally-themed sandwiches priced at a competitive $4.99 to commuters in a high-traffic intercept point from a strategically sited mobile cart. (The kiosk is located directly between a commuter parking area and the main classroom facilities). Its sandwich menu is inspired by nine ethnic cuisines with such offerings as the Tandoori Naanwich and the Ricky Ricardo (Cuban sandwich). Khush Roti was recognized for offering a highly effective way to generate additional cash sales for the department. It generates sales of over $3,100 a week with minimal labor/equipment costs and effectively targets a population that previously did not spend many foodservice dollars on campus.
Best Station Concept
The U.S. House of Representatives’ “Meal Deal$” station.
Meal Deal$ shows how a concept need not be elaborate or expensive to be a “best concept.” In the extremely high volume House of Representatives cafeteria, this station provides price conscious customers and visitors a quick way to select grab-and-go items. All items are priced at $1, $2 and $3 and grouped on different shelves with clear signage in an airscreen refrigerated display case. It was recognized for offering price conscious customers a truly value-added component and one which actually incents participation as well as facilitating quick flow-through at busy times.
Food Management’s editors base their award decisions on a variety of factors, ranging from the impact of a given program, its effectiveness in achieving targeted results, the impact it may have on others in the field and the level of innovation it represents when considered in light of standard practices in a given noncommercial segment of the foodservice industry.
Nominations are solicited from the industry over the course of the preceding year and are also made by the magazine’s editors. The winning concepts are the result of team efforts, and team members are cited individually in the special Best Concepts editorial package that appears in the August issue of Food Management and on its website, food-management.com
The awards are presented to winners at the magazine’s annual IDEAS Conference, which will be held outside of Dallas later this year on September 26-28.
For more information on the Best Concepts awards program, contact John Lawn, editor-in-chief of the magazine at (216) 931-9620 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the FM IDEAS Conference, contact Monique Monaco, conference director, at (813) 627-6988 or email Monique.email@example.com.
Food Management is the leading business publication for foodservice directors, managers, contract management executives and others in the non-commercial or “onsite” segments of the foodservice industry. Its readers oversee foodservice operations in colleges and universities, business dining, healthcare, K-12 schools, museums, sports and entertainment venues and similar operations. For more information about FM, visit www.food-management.com.
FM is part of the Penton Restaurant Group, which also includes Nation’s Restaurant News, Restaurant Hospitality, and the Show Dailies; a wide range of foodservice events including , Menu Masters, FM’s IDEAS Conference and the W.I.S.E Summit; and numerous electronic media products.
The group’s parent company is Penton Media, Inc., the largest independent business-to-business media company in the U.S., serving more than six million business professionals every month.
Penton Media’s market-leading brands are focused on 30 industries and include more than 100 trade magazines, 145 Web sites, 150 industry trade shows and conferences, and more than 500 information data products. Headquartered in New York City, the privately held company is owned by MidOcean Partners and U.S. Equity Partners II, an investment fund sponsored by Wasserstein & Co., LP, and its co-investors. For additional information on the company and its businesses, visit www.penton.com.