7/21/2010 9:42 AM
For many people, the word “cafeteria” invokes images of generic meals, plastic trays, and long sterile tables found in so many outdated facilities across the country. However many Foodservice Directors are changing their image to a more upscale retail environment, especially in many medical facilities. For example, many operators are developing grab-n-go kiosks, offering premium cold and hot beverages, implementing made to order salads, and serving healthy food choices by merchandising food with creative displays, lighting and eye-catching signage.
Stanford Hospital and Clinics Market Square Cafeteria has been drawing rave reviews on Yelp from their customers. They have overhauled their menu to offer more robust meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including French Dips, made to order cheeseburgers, and comfort foods like turkey dinners with the traditional fixings providing “home made” appeal .
In addition to quality food offerings and creative merchandising, your cafeteria décor must be equally inviting. Remember that your customer’s are expecting the same restaurant or retail environment they experience outside your facility; think food courts in high end shopping malls, fast casual restaurants and specialty coffee café’s as good examples to learn from and get inspired by.
Here are some common, quick and easy things you can do to improve food presentation and interior décor with minimal disruption to your existing operation;
• Use black pans or colored casserole dishes to display food in lieu of stainless steel pans. Use shallow pans and replenish more often to avoid overheating and deterioration of the food. Place real garnishes between food displays
• Avoid posting menu specials on plain paper. Add color and graphics and display in attractive frames. Display plated specials of the day for high visual appeal at the entrance or food station.
• Add brighter, more focused lighting at food stations to help create identity and highlight food displays.
• Create a new interior theme by applying a fresh coat of paint to walls, add wallpaper and boarders or framed artwork to walls to spruce up your dining room. Consider changing seating and tables to compliment your new interior image. This can be done over time, in phases.
• Adding music or a flat screen television in a designated location can help to create a comfortable relaxing atmosphere.
Studies have shown that customers respond very positively to menu changes, merchandising and interior upgrades. The Garden Terrace Café in Durango, CO has seen revenue increase over 200%.
Simple adjustments can go a long way in changing the perception of hospital cafeterias in the minds of your consumers.
Have you made changes to your cafeteria décor and foodservice? Are you planning to make major changes to your cafeteria in the fiscal year?