VF Outdoor, Inc., a subsidiary of VF Corporation, recently completed construction of its new corporate headquarters for its action sports retail brands The North Face, JanSport and lucy in Alameda, Calif.
The 11-acre site, with four buildings totaling 160,000 square feet overlooking San Francisco Bay, opened in July 2012 and is pursuing LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold status from the U.S. Green Building Council and comes complete with a fully equipped fitness center, an outdoor training area, on-site organic garden and nearly all of its electricity generated by wind turbines and solar panels. VF Corp., which also owns Eagle Creek, Timberland, Wrangler and other brands, posted $11 billion in revenue last year and a 60 percent growth rate for its outdoor division, according to published reports.
With a predominantly younger workforce, the age-old cafeteria with its boring, barely there salad bar and lackluster pre-made entrees just didn't cut it anymore. VF's new, state-of-the-art servery's salad bar, in contrast, uses locally sourced, seasonal ingredients with each item marked by a sign indicating its origins. In addition, the servery's new interactive cooking stations feature made-to-order creations on flat-top griddles and other flexible equipment. This is a big step forward for an operation that previously had just small kitchen pantries at its former location.
Cini-Little worked with the client to develop RFPs and analyze data to select the perfect operator for its needs. The bid went to Epicurean Group, a boutique foodservice management firm based in the San Francsico Bay Area focused on local, seasonal and fresh food as well as on building on-site gardens. Nahum Goldberg, LEED AP, senior associate with Cini-Little International in San Pablo, Calif. says he has continued to assist with financial analysis and other audits as part of Cini-Little's business consulting services.
"Designing the cafeteria was truly a collaborative and transparent process, and more of an educational process with the owners," Goldberg says.
With slightly less than 3,000 square feet for the kitchen and servery, the Cini-Little team was limited in its options. "We created an L-shaped servery with four different points of contact." One focal point is the large, round flat-top griddle similar to a Mongolian grill where chefs cook daily specials — from sautees and bowls to crepes and salmon steaks — and even host demonstrations and classes for an audience of up to 20 or 30 people. A low-noise exhaust system was set up to enhance the sound of the space.
A little compromising of space in the dry storage left more room for an innovative dishroom with multi-tiered shelving, an energy-efficient ventless warewasher and an open pass-through where diners drop off their dishes for recycling and scraping/composting.
Rather than serving sugary sodas, VF opted for a central water filtration system hooked up to a carbonated soda dispenser for sparkling water on tap and reusable bottle refills. A semi-separate coffee, juice and smoothie bar stays open all day, even when the rest of the servery closes down.
The foodservice operation also features an on-site garden. Epicurean even worked with the health department located five minutes away to develop a set of standards for properly growing, cleaning and storing food from the garden to meet safety protocol.