E&S Extra

Editorial Director Joe Carbonara provides insights and commentary on the state of the foodservice equipment and supplies marketplace.


Renovation Revolution

Renovations remain all the rage in today’s foodservice industry and for good reason: Renovations ring the cash register.

Regardless of whether it’s a chain restaurant or a noncommercial operation, renovating the facility allows customers to see the foodservice venue in a new and often improved light.

Take, for example, Jefferson Marketplace on the campus of Ohio University. In its first full year of operation, revenues increased by 252 percent compared to the previous facility. In fact, by almost any metric one would consider, the project was a success. The check average was up more than $3 per person and the number of transactions increased to 214,791 from 34,813 in the prior facility’s last full year of operation. Despite all of this growth, food costs declined 1 percent, and labor costs declined 1.3 percent. As a result of this financial success, the project will pay for itself in 34 months.

This thoughtful performance not only won over the campus population at Ohio University, it also earned Jefferson Marketplace FE&S’ 2019 Facility Design Project of the Year Award.

Success like this, though, does not happen in a vacuum. The project team had very well-thought-out goals and objectives. For example, to encourage customers to eat more fruits and vegetables, Jefferson Marketplace features a vegetable butchering station. Here customers pick out the items they want, and a staff member washes and cuts vegetables to order.

The team also worked collaboratively to tie other campus entities into the project. For example, the project team worked with Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication and the Patton College of Education to provide professional quality lighting, audio-visual recording devices and broadcast knowledge to help share information about food, cooking and healthy eating across the intercampus network.

Renovations not only help ring the cash register, they can also help lower operating expenses. Take, for example, Captain D’s. The company took a long look at its seating areas and made updates to make better use of this space based on customer traffic and more. Captain D’s also revamped the infrastructure that supports how it prepares and serves its food, drawing some inspiration from the family dining sector. Due to these changes, the back and the front of the house now share the space 50/50.

The net result: This quick-serve seafood chain shrank its prototype size to 2,000 square feet from 2,800 square feet. Doing so introduced a variety of benefits; among them the company can now pursue smaller locations, which potentially lowers its real estate costs.

Make no mistake, though, whether it’s working on an existing operation or a prototype, renovations remain complicated projects. Done right, however, the return on investment is worth it.