Dan Henroid is a rising star in the healthcare segment, a young director who has posted significant achievements at one of the country's premier academic medical institutions. Under his direction, the nutrition and food services department at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center (UCSFMC) has forged new ground in technology application, nutrition education and retail management, achievements that together earned him the 2012 Silver Plate in the Healthcare category. (For more on Henroid's operation, go to http://tinyurl.com/7575ckz.)
Henroid is a fascinating mixture of scholarship, operational experience and entrepreneurial acumen, all leavened with a moxie that drove him to turn down $350,000 in already-allocated renovation funds (and healthcare directors know how hard those are to get) just a few months into his tenure at UCSFMC because he thought they inadequately addressed the facility challenges the operation faced.
In the five years he has been there, Henroid has already led a total reinvention of retail dining at the two hospital facilities for which he oversees foodservice — and yes, that includes the renovation on which he made his stand when he first came on board.
In fact, that project — Moffitt Café — serves as the centerpiece of Henroid's impact on retail dining at UCSFMC. Not only is it much more elaborate and exciting than the very modest upgrade originally planned, but the process that brought the Moffitt Café into being shows Henroid's aptitude for stepping out of the box and taking bold steps.
With Moffitt it was the need to continue offering foodservice even as it was being remodeled. The solution: a pair of innovative micro c-stores, one tucked into a former trash collection room near the renovation site, and the other seven floors up. Both continue to operate and generate revenues completely incongruous to their modest footprints.
Food, Service and Opportunity
Henroid has a one-word answer to why he became interested in a career in foodservice: “custard.”
“There is a local place in St. Louis [where Henroid grew up] called Ted Drewes, a frozen custard stand that looked like an old school Dairy Queen with 14 service windows and no indoor seating,” he recalls. “They were doing five figure gross sales selling just frozen custard. I started working there when I was 16 and that's where I cut my teeth on how to serve customers and where I gained an appreciation for what goes into a successful retail operation.”
Nevertheless, when Henroid started college at Bradley University in Peoria, IL, he initially looked toward service-oriented careers like social work and occupational therapy before a fortuitous conversation pointed him to the school's small home economics/dietetics program. “I went in to get a brochure, talked to them and walked out an hour later having decided on a major,” he says. What drew him was “the combination of food and service and the many opportunities the field promised.”
Henroid's enthusiasm for a foodservice management career was further strengthened thanks to an internship sponsored by NACUFS that took him to Penn State, a school much larger than Bradley. “It opened my eyes to the possibilities in this field, given the size, scope and variety of the campus dining there, where there were tens of thousands of students to serve.”
After working briefly as a clinical dietitian, Henroid gained significant operational experience when he landed a position in the food and nutrition services department at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. There he worked under healthcare industry mainstays Linda Lafferty (herself a Silver Plate winner in 2005) and Mary Gregoire and managed the central kitchen as a patient foodservice manager. He also helped in designing that facility's central kitchen.
“I told Linda that one day I'd like to have her job,” Henroid says laughing. “I'm not sure what I was thinking. I was young and wet behind the ears, but did know enough to realize I would need a doctorate for that.”
The Temptation of Academe
So he debarked to Iowa State University, taking a full-time position as a teacher and researcher while working on a PhD for the next five years. In 2005, he joined the Conrad Hilton College of Hotel & Restaurant Management at the University of Houston as a teacher while continuing to work on his doctorate. After a year he was at a crossroads.
“Linda and I had kept in touch and she knew my predecessor here at UCSF, who was looking to retire. UCSF is a lot like Rush: no undergraduate students, a large academic medical center in a major urban area. Probably the only big difference is that at Rush they have the department of clinical nutrition on the university side of things, so Mary is a professor and chair of the department of clinical nutrition as well director of food and nutrition services on the operational side. UCSF doesn't have that, but we do have a 10-person dietetic internship and a tie to the academic side.”
Henroid was tempted to stay in academe, but the draw of managing at a place like UCSFMC was too much to turn down. “I just decided that this was a great opportunity. It's in the culinary breadbasket and I decided I was still young enough and still had the energy and drive to do operations again.”
It was a huge challenge. At Rush, Henroid had managed patient foodservice and the bakery but had little experience with retail or catering. Remarkably, those are the areas where he has made his biggest marks. “I saw an operational need,” he explains. “Take 920 Express, the mini c-store on the ninth floor. We opened it because I saw people going down to the second floor and then having to go back up while only having 30 minutes to eat. That didn't work well. Why can't we go to them instead of they having to come to us?”
As for the renovated main café, he says his philosophy is simple: “What customers see in the front of the house is what they think goes on in the back of the house. If the front is a dynamite operation, they'll think well of the rest. In a hospital, this is especially important for the nurses. If you take care of the nurses, they take care of you.”
WHAT'S ON HENROID'S PLATE
Sites: 2 hospitals totalling 706 beds
Retail Outlets: 5 (2 cafes, 1 kiosk, 2 c-stores)
Annual Sales: $8.2 million ($6M retail, $2.2M catering)
Patient Meals: 637,000/yr.
Annual Budget: $22 milllion
Staff: 225 FT, 46 PT (232 FTE)