Currently the largest signature brand within Sodexo's extensive portfolio, Jazzman's Café & Bakery has also secured its spot as one of the foodservice management firm's highest-grossing concepts.
"The Jazzman's brand encompasses all of our divisions, including campus, corporate, healthcare and government services," says Jennifer Schmalz, Jazzman's senior brand manager. Established about 15 years ago, Jazzman's now has approximately 200 locations nationwide.
In addition to proprietary coffee, tea and baked goods programs, Jazzman's is known for its café selections, which include paninis, sandwiches, wraps, salads, breakfast sandwiches and parfaits.
FE&S spoke with Schmalz to learn more about the Jazzman's concept and what makes it unique.
FE&S: Your locations range from lobby kiosks to restaurants with seating and communal areas. How would you describe the Jazzman's concept?
JS: We have a wide variety of build-outs, ranging from 160 to between 400 and 500 square feet. On a smaller scale, we offer fresh bakery products and grab-and-go items, including coffee. Our larger locations also include sandwiches, hot paninis, salad, soup and breakfast sandwiches.
FE&S: The theme is based on jazz music. What aspects of the décor and aesthetics support this?
JS: The front of house has a jazz environment, with this genre of music playing. Some of our more defined locations include art packages, musical note decor and soft seating that reflect the theme. This includes a neutral, soft color palette of beige, brown and light sage green. There is an area with merchandise for sale, including travel cups, coffee and tea. A self-serve coffee area with air pots also is up front.
FE&S: Jazzman's is known for its sandwiches, paninis and baked goods. Describe your signature and best-selling menu items.
JS: In terms of our bakery items, it's mandatory for every location to offer our two best sellers, which are the blueberry muffin and chocolate chip cookie. Each site offers at least three muffin and two cookie varieties at all times. Other popular baked goods include regular and low-fat scones, turnovers, brownies and bars. Six standard sandwich selections include three-cheese and roasted pepper paninis with smoked turkey, red pepper mayonnaise and black olive dressing with baby spinach, roma tomato, roasted red and yellow peppers, red onion and parmesan cheese on ciabatta bread; smoked turkey BLTs with smoked turkey, bacon, roma tomato, mayonnaise and iceberg lettuce; and breakfast sandwiches with a choice of bacon, ham or sausage with egg and cheese on either wheatberry bread or bagels. The five salad selections include Jazzman's Salad with romaine and spring mix topped with shredded carrots, cucumbers, mushrooms, tomatoes, black olives and onions and an Italian chopped salad with salami and capicola on romaine topped with mozzarella, black olives, parmesan cheese, onions, tomatoes, artichoke hearts and pepperoncini. Seasonal offerings, such as a summer strawberry salad, also are big sellers. We offer proprietary drinks, including Cool Jazz Blast, a blended drink made to order in mocha, caramel and other flavors.
FE&S: Are menu items consistent, or do they change throughout the year?
JS: We are always adding new items and trying them out as limited-time offers. We run six LTO cycles every year. We've recently introduced monkey bread that is being offered for a limited time but has been a strong seller. We've also added in some snacking components recently. This spring we will introduce trail mix and more grab-and-go snacks, in addition to Italian sodas. We've incorporated a speed oven into our operations in 2009, which has allowed us to expand our offerings to include warm grab-and-go sandwiches, breakfast items and bakery items. In addition, we're currently testing bakery items this spring, including cake pops and a cookie cup that incorporates a chocolate chip cookie, bananas, whipped cream and chocolate sauce drizzled on top.
FE&S: The majority of Jazzman's operations are supported by both a central and on-site kitchen. What main pieces of equipment support the brand?
JS: Food is prepared by chefs in a central kitchen, then transported by carts to the Jazzman locations. Central kitchens range from about 5,000 to 6,000 square feet and produce all food items for Jazzman's. These items are then plated on the serving platters displayed at Jazzman's and delivered to the site by pushcart. Equipment used in the central kitchens include convection ovens, slicers, walk-in coolers and freezers, prep tables, rolling racks and dishwashing equipment. Each location has a kitchen area that includes one to two convection ovens, depending on the volume. A majority have reach-in refrigerators and freezers, dishwashers or three-compartment sinks, rolling racks and prep tables. Speed ovens, panini grills, an espresso machine and blender are located in the front of house, since we believe the smells of food being cooked enhances the dining experience. This is where pastries are heated and sandwiches are grilled. Prepping for sandwiches and salads takes place in each location's kitchen.
FE&S: What aspects of the equipment are most important for your operation?
JS: In terms of the espresso machines, speed of service and durability take precedence. This is why we switched from a manual to automatic model. Also, we have achieved greater speed of service and product consistency by incorporating speed ovens into our operations. We look for durability with the coffee brewers we specify as well.
FE&S: The bakery café segment is one of the most competitive. What are the biggest challenges you've had to overcome?
JS: Continuously meeting today's relevant trends is an ongoing challenge. Sodexo is always evaluating consumer insight data to make sure the products we're serving are on trend.
FE&S: What is the plan for Jazzman's moving forward?
JS: Because the bakery café segment is very dynamic and constantly growing and changing, Sodexo continuously evaluates Jazzman's Café. We have a process in place to refresh and renew the brand that takes into account all aspects, including the logo, color scheme, equipment, core menu and limited-time offers.