Q&A with Gene De Young, Chief Operations Officer
FE&S: Is the facility meeting your expectations?
GDY: Business has been tremendous. The students are overwhelmed by the environment and food. But more surprising is how the surrounding community is taking advantage of the facility. We are seeing increased public use of both the common and private dining spaces.
FE&S: Now that you've had more time to live in the facility, so to speak, what works as you had hoped?
GDY: The community engagement aspect is spot on ... wouldn't change it a bit. The internal flow works very well. As I look at the back of house it looks like we should have planned for more storage space. We won't likely make any changes for now but might capture this in future expansion.
FE&S: What advice would you give to design teams as they venture into new territory like this?
GDY: Create a team that checks their ego at the door. Collaboration and synergy will not flourish unless the individuals can think bigger/beyond themselves.
FE&S: Any other lessons you learned about equipment, design or operations during this project?
GDY: Food digester: I still believe it is a good idea, but it has been problematic from the start. This was a heavy up-front investment with an expected early pay-back due to savings in waste disposal. We just cannot seem to get the thing working properly. Not certain if it is user/training issues or just too complex an idea to get fully functional.
Goals Set and Met
- Replace an inefficient operation with a state-of-the art centralized facility.
- Strategically size and lay out the kitchen areas to allow for future expansion that has a limited impact on the existing operation.
- Create a centralized hub for students and support newly constructed housing.
- Engage guests with five independent exhibition cooking stations that promote interaction with the chefs while the platforms share labor, utilities and equipment costs.
- Provide distinguished service to the surrounding community offering meals and a place to gather.
- Incorporate a catering program in the back-of-house kitchen.
- Integrate a separate, independently operated late-night program that visually connects to the main dining area.
Worth Mentioning: The Judges' Comments
- Good, classic design.
- Centralized kitchen allows for a good flow of the food from delivery to the point of service.
- While the design features plenty of individual food stations, they are positioned close enough together to help make effective and efficient use of labor.
- Good approach to late-night dining that makes it a nice part of the facility.
- Back-of-the-house integrates well with the prep and
- catering areas.
- The cooking line feeds the chef’s table and the other areas equally well.
- Nice sustainability oriented features, including Energy Star-rated equipment, reusable china instead of disposables and a pulper.
- It’s a nicely integrated facility that allows for multiple uses.
Dining Services Features
- Enrollment: 1,000 students; 750 undergraduates
- Residents: 450 living on campus
- Foodservice: Operated by Bon Appétit Management Company
- Project Overview: An expansion to a warehouse designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry added 54,000 square feet, which includes 20,000 square feet for foodservice.
- Foodservice Features: A 4,200-square-foot back-of-house production kitchen, built to accommodate a larger student population; 12,000-square-foot interactive servery and dining area with a grill area and pasta area; a chef’s table for vegan and special fare; a “fire and ice” sauté station; and a support line for the exhibition food platform and temporary production line for catering. Servery also features the Cook’s Nook, a chef’s table; display pizzeria and bakery; salad bar; and beverage station. The Shack is a retail/late-night operation.
- Seats: 375 in 7 neighborhood dining environments
- Average Check: All-you-care-to-eat plan; $6.50 for individual meals
- Volume: 300 customers at breakfast; 400 at lunch; 300 at dinner. In the future, up to 1,000 meal plans may be sold.
- Total Project Cost: $17 million for expansion, $10 million for foodservice portion
- Equipment Investment: $2.5 million
- Many energy-efficient features incorporated such as high efficiency hoods, waste reduction system to reduce food waste by 70 percent; eliminated disposable plates and utensils by upgrading to china and flatware; use of energy-efficient lighting and natural lighting; high temperature dishwasher minimizes chemical use; water saving fixtures limit water waste.
- Chief Operations Officer: Gene De Young
- Vice President for Student Development: Paul Blezien, Ph.D.
- Foodservice Director: Deb Mohsenzadegan, Bon Appétit Management Company
- Executive Chef: Davin Klippel, Bon Appétit Management Company
- Architect: The Taylor Group Architects, Fresno, Calif.
- Interior Design: Webb Design Interiors, Tustin, Calif.; Linda Midden, director of interior design
- Foodservice Consultants: Webb Design, Tustin, Calif.; Mike Browne, senior project manager; James Webb, founding principal
- Equipment Dealer: Webb Design
- Construction: Reeve Knight Construction, Roseville, Calif.