Replacing an aging facility, the multiplatform Wildflower Café features culinary variety while room service offers patients a restaurant-style, on-demand food delivery system.
Q&A with David Reeves, MBA, director of hospitality services, Elmhurst Memorial Hospital
FE&S: Since the project opened, how has business been? Is it meeting your expectations?
DR: We have received very positive reviews regarding our foodservice program and have come close to our original financial and volume projections. I attribute the variance to the general softness we see in the healthcare market within the region.
Here are some highlights since the renovation:
- The retail operation and patient foodservice areas expanded meal production by 20 percent with the current equipment and facility.
- Space was dedicated and utility service installed in areas where additional equipment may be installed without the need for any capital renovations.
- Soft space is available near the retail and patient kitchens that if required can be used to expand the foodservice space in the future.
FE&S: Now that you’ve had more time to live in the facility, so to speak, what works as had hoped?
DR: We are very pleased with the integrity of the original design and the equipment.
FE&S: What advice would you give to design teams as they venture into new territory like this?
DR: Make sure you design a facility that is versatile. The time between design construction and opening can be substantial. Our overall project was complex and took several years to develop. Healthcare reform was not on the radar during the design phase. However, by the time we opened, the Affordable Care Act had been passed. Fortunately we have a facility that is able to adapt to change.
Also, hire a design firm in which you are confident in their work. We reviewed many designers throughout the nation and ultimately selected a firm that we knew would produce an excellent design.
FE&S: Any other lessons you learned about equipment, design or operations during this project?
DR: The involvement of my management staff in the project since the programming phase of design throughout design development was key to our success. We ensured that all of our communication to the foodservice designers and architects were reflected on the design plans and then followed up throughout construction. We were able to prevent any major issues before they became too costly or unable to be resolved. Their involvement resulted in our kitchen being completed on time, within budget and all approvals to open well in advance of the completion of the overall project.
Goals Set and Met
- Develop a retail program consisting of Wildflower Café and a branded Starbucks kiosk near the main entrance of the hospital and at the core of the retail corridor.
- Create a patient services kitchen that supports hotel-style room service.
- Design retail space that compliments the building’s
- Prairie-style architecture.
- Allow for enough capacity to serve the future needs of Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare.
Worth Mentioning: The Judges' Comments
- This hit all the main design elements for a project of this size, showing that the design team knows this market segment well.
- This is a classic design that improved the overall efficiency of the operation. Simply put: they got it right.
- The project team did a good job of managing costs across all platforms. For example, they tried to offset the higher costs of room service by bolstering retail sales.
- They have created a restaurant feel and yet it’s so warm and inviting that it feels like your grandmother set the table.
- This design changes the perception of hospital foodservice for the better.
Dining Services Features
- Wildflower Café features platforms including Main Street Deli, Prairie Green Salad Bar, Carvers, Grill-werks and Delectable’s.
- The hotel-style room service allows patients to order their meals through a call center located in a lower-level kitchen. Patients benefit through improved food quality, better selections and healthy meal options, as well as greater consumption of meals, which improves their nutrient intake and speeds their recovery.
- Smaller walk-ins support room service, catering and hold prepped product for retail.
- Bulk cooking equipment in one zone supports the café, catering and room service.
- Three smaller cooking battery locations finish production for room service, catering and retail.
- Technology includes digital menu boards, automated refrigerator/freezer temperature monitoring system, room service ordering system with tray tracking, catering, ordering software and guest tray processing via the Internet.
Elmhurst Project Team
- Foodservice Director: David Reeves, MBA, Director of Hospitality Services
- Executive Chef: Jim Roth, CEC
- Food & Nutrition Manager: Pat Sutor, MS, RD, LDN
- Architect and Interior Designer: Clinical areas by Albert Kahn Associates Inc., Detroit, Mich.; and exterior and public areas by Pratt Design Studio, Chicago
- Foodservice Design Consultant: Robert Rippe & Associates, Minneapolis, Minn.; Robert Rippe, RD, FCSI, principal; Christine Guyott, RD, FCSI, principal; Richard Kukla, FCSI, principal; and Connie Dickson, senior operations consultant
- Foodservice Consultants for Facility Operations and Room Service: DM&A Webb
- Foodservice Equipment Dealer: Baring Industries, Inc., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Downers Grove, Ill. (local office)
- Project Management Team: Michael Heim CFSP, pre-construction manager, and Tom Esberger, senior project manager
- Owner's Representative and Project Manager: Hammes Company, Brookfield, Wis.
- Construction Manager: Gilbane, Providence, R.I.
- Civil Engineering: V3, Woodridge, Ill.
- MEP Engineering: Korda Engineering, Columbus, Ohio
- Structural Engineering: Albert Kahn Associates Inc., Detroit
- Medical Equipment Planning: LifeStructures Technology Planning, Indianapolis, Ind.
- Landscaping: Mariani Landscape, Lake Bluff, Ill.
- Artwork Consulting: Corporate Artworks | Health Environment Art Services, Arlington Heights, Ill.