Though Café customers can see staff assembling ingredients for wraps, sandwiches and salads, and watch staff pulling roasts from the convection oven, they can't view the entire back-of-the-house operation.
In the back, upon receiving deliveries, staff place menu ingredients and dry goods in a walk-in freezer or walk-in cooler or on dry storage shelves. For preparation, they load products onto a dolly and move it into the kitchen.
For hot food preparation, staff use a single convection oven to cook whole beef roasts and turkey breasts. After slicing the meat and poultry on an automatic slicer, they place it into a hot holding unit where it remains until staff transfer it into hot wells on the prep line.
Across from the prep table, staff use two deep-fat fryers to cook housemade potato chips and buffalo-style chicken wings, which are available in the evening only.
In the pizza prep area, which is separated from the Café prep area by a small counter, the equipment lineup includes conveyor ovens that bake pizza dough that is proofed in an adjacent cabinet and topped with ingredients at a prep table that sits across the aisle. This table also holds pizza boxes. Staff use an adjacent prep table to assemble sandwiches, and a soup holding well sits on a counter near the pizza table.
A small scullery area includes a dishwasher and a three-compartment sink for washing pots and pans.
Efficiency is essential in the small space. "This operation can be run with just three people in the back of the house preparing pizza, sandwiches, salad and wraps," Canne says. "We need one cashier and one expediter per shift to make the operation run smoothly."
Throughout 10 Elm, all paper products are compostable. Staff break down all cardboard and deliver it to the college farm. Staff there put it into a shredder that produces bedding for the animals. "This replaces sawdust that must be purchased," Canne says.
In addition, a rendering company picks up all used oil and uses it to manufacture retail products.
Over the past year and a half, customer traffic at 10 Elm continued to increase. "It's even more popular than when we opened," Canne says. "The student population hasn't increased, but the popularity has. Sales are up 20 percent. That is an indication that we're doing something right."
Canne says the menu options certainly contribute to the increase in traffic and staff will continue to be challenged to keep the menu fresh to stay in tune with student preferences. A large parking lot outside the building is a convenience students can't find easily elsewhere on campus. "Sometimes when we look at the old building and ask why do we keep evolving it, we come back to the reality of its location and ease of finding parking," Canne says.