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Old Faithful Inn’s Kitchen Renovation At Yellowstone National Park, Wyo.

In the pot- and dishwashing area, staff use energy- and waste-saving equipment such as high-intensity pot washers, a pot machine, an upright dishmachine, a conveyor dishmachine, and garbage disposal units connected to pulpers that grind solid waste, thereby minimizing compostable food garbage and make handling easier. All of this helps Xanterra meet the goals of its environmental program initiatives. Staff also use garbage-can washers and a grease-collection system.

The pot- and dishwashing area is just one of many green features introduced in the Old Faithful Inn project. The largest, according to Johnson, is the adaptive reuse of an existing building and the repurposing of underutilized space to limit the need for new construction. Other green initiatives include the chiller loop for condensing the unit rack system; use of a variable-speed hood exhaust system to adjust hood exhaust volumes based on cooking volumes; and the recycling and reuse of existing building components along with sorting and tracking of the waste stream to document waste reduction.

"Our food production and service efficiency has improved greatly compared to previous seasons because of the layout and all the new equipment," Dean says. "But, we've had challenges – though temporary – evaluating our production systems and figuring out where, when, how and who will be working in each area to meet daily requirements. We wrote our menus based on historical data and the floor plan of the old kitchen. As we've seen how the menu and production fit the new kitchen systems, we've done some adjusting where possible, and we'll know how to better utilize the spaces and equipment as we write future menus."

Similar challenges arise with staffing, Dean says. "We've had to calculate the number of people and hours required to staff each area because the floor plan and equipment changed. Shifting some hours from one area to another has been necessary simply because of the new flows through the employee dining room and the dishwashing areas."

The greatest challenges facing the Xanterra team each year seldom change, and relate to the seasonal nature of the operations. "Most of our facilities operate on a seasonal basis, so we open in the spring and close in the fall. We hire staff from around the world for a three- to six-month agreement, and many of these employees have little or no food experience and are coming to Yellowstone more for a summer vacation than a professional experience," Dean says. "Once we get our buildings open in the spring or early summer, we hit peak business volumes within weeks, requiring a simplified but effective training program that can prepare for the high demands as quickly as possible. Then the reverse happens in the fall, as we begin our closing process a few weeks before each building actually closes to the public."

After one season in the new facility, the initial challenges are fast becoming part of the historic legend that will be passed along to generations of foodservice employees. New equipment plays an important role in allowing the staff at Old Faithful Inn to provide visitors with delicious meals as they experience nature's splendor.

Design Capsule

  • Ownership: National Park Service, Department of the Interior; Yellowstone National Park's concessionaire, Xanterra Parts and Resorts
  • Location: Yellowstone National Park, Wyo.
  • Opened: 2012 (multiphase project began in 2004; the kitchen was the final phase); original Old Faithful Inn opened in 1904
  • Size: Total project, 28,000 square feet, including warehouse, 11,200 square feet; main kitchen, 6,500 square feet; employee dining room kitchen, servery and dining, 3,700 square feet; mechanical, 6,000 square feet. (The 304-seat employee dining room was not part of the renovation.)
  • Production: The renovated kitchen can prepare 3,200 meals a day for all operations, which include the Old Faithful Inn à la carte dining room (1,800 meals a day, including breakfast, lunch and dinner); the employee dining room (750 breakfasts, lunches and dinners daily); and support for two operations at the Inn, the Bear Pit Lounge (appetizers and limited entrée service) and Bear Paw Deli (grab-and-go quick-service items).
  • OFI Dining Room Average Check: Breakfast, $11; Lunch, $13; Dinner, $26
  • Total Annual Sales: Not Available
  • Hours: The kitchen is open from 4:30 a.m. until 12:30 a.m. or when the kitchen is clean. Service is from 6:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. with breaks in between meal periods. Employee dining is open for breakfast from 6 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.; lunch from 10:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.; and dinner from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • Menu Specialties: Farm-raised game and trout; pork osso buco
  • Staff: 202 employees, including servers, bartenders, store keepers and warehouse staff. For dinner service, 5 employees and 1 for finishing can produce 800 covers in a 5.5-hour period.
  • Kitchen Remodel Cost: $8.8 million
  • Equipment Investment: $1.8 million
  • Website: www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com

Key Players

  • Vice President/General Manager, Xanterra Parks & Resorts: Jim McCaleb
  • Assistant Director of Engineering for Projects: Mark Siedlaczek
  • Director, Food & Beverage, Yellowstone Park Lodges, Xanterra Parks & Resorts: Lu Harlow
  • Executive Sous Chef, Yellowstone Park Lodges, Xanterra Parks & Resorts: Mike Dean, CEC
  • Executive Director of Operations: Mike Keller
  • Architects: A&E Architects, Missoula and Billings, Mont.; Jim McDonald, AIA, principal architect; Dennis Johnson, AIA, LEED AP, project architect
  • Interior Design: A&E Architects, Missoula and Billings, Mont.
  • Foodservice Design: H-C Design & Consulting, Bozeman, Mont.; Michael Miles, FCSI, principal
  • Structural: Beaudette Consulting Engineers, Missoula, Mont.; Tom Beaudette, PE, principal engineer; Janna Mosser, PE, project engineer
  • Mechanical & Electrical: Associated Construction Engineering, Belgrade, Mont.; Kip Weeda, PE, principal engineer
  • Construction: Dick Anderson Construction, Helena, Mont., and Martel Construction, Bozeman, Mont.
  • Equipment Dealer: TriMark Gill Group, Hamilton, Mont. and J&V Restaurant Supply, Bozeman, Mont.
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