When customers arrive, they place orders with the cashier. They can stand close to the serving line and watch staff prepare menu items while they wait for orders or find seating.
Deliveries arrive daily between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. from the UR’s commissary located in Heilman Dining Center on the main campus and from select local vendors. Staff place delivered items into dry storage and a walk-in refrigerator downstairs or into the walk-in cooler and reach-in freezer on the main floor. Since the café is small, there’s little room to keep food for longer than 24 hours.
“All preparation, such as the slicing of meats, cheeses and produce, and the making of salad dressings and sauces takes place in the Heilman Center commissary. These items are then transported to the café where menu selections are made to order,” says Lee Chaharyn, project manager for Campus Services. “With this system, we can make sure all the sandwiches and salads are made fresh and to order.”
Even though the commissary at Heilman includes a bakery, Campus Dining Services hired a baker to produce breakfast pastries and lunch desserts exclusively for the café. “Everything is made from scratch, and we wanted a lot of flexibility to incorporate seasonal ingredients and respond to requests for special events,” Chaharyn says. Among the many delectable bakery items are pecan sticky rolls, croissants, cinnamon rolls, Danishes, French toast pudding and fresh scones and muffins.
Packaged items at the café display special labels that feature the spider icon and nutritional information. Logoed labels secure deli paper around sandwiches.
For clean-up, staff use a disposer, pot sink and dishmachine on the main floor. The main floor also contains a manager’s pod, a janitor’s closet and employee lockers. Staff use bins to separate trash and recyclables.
In addition to dry storage and a small walk-in freezer, the lower level contains a small electrical closet for compressors and a manager’s office.
Operational efficiency is crucial to this café. “Everyone has dual duties,” Clarke says. “This is the only way we can make an operation situated in a small space work.”
Training staff in operational efficiency and customer service also contributes to the café’s success, Clarke says.
In its first few months, the café met all expectations for financial success. It also began fulfilling its mission to bring about a more symbiotic relationship between the university and the community. No doubt, the café’s fresh, tasty food and warm, friendly service are proving to be irresistible as well.