Facility Design Project of the Month

Each month, FE&S spotlights a project worth talking about, with in-depth coverage from concept through completion including a kitchen equipment floor plan.


Employee Café and Main Kitchen at Reading Hospital in West Reading, Pa.

Dishroom and Potwashing Room

"The existing dishroom was located on the level below the main kitchen, which made logistics of handling both the wares coming from the dining room and the patient rooms very challenging," Kipe says. "The dining room wares were conveyed to the dishroom using a vertical conveyor system which was out of commission on a regular basis as it aged."

For the renovation, the design team moved the dishroom to the main level for efficiency. The dishroom sits between the dining room and kitchen to allow dish drop-off to occur onto a tray conveyor that transports the wares to the soiled dishtable. At the opposite end of the dishroom, staff stage and empty soiled tray carts coming back from the patient floors.

The relocation of the potwashing function, with its new prep sinks and worktables, to this dishroom generated additional efficiencies in other areas. "More space is provided in front of the equipment, which enhances circulation of staff," Kipe says. "The new dishwashing setup saves us at least three employees per day, due in part because we don't have to run dishes up and down elevators."

The lower level now contains a call center, conference room, new storage cages and a cart-washing room with a cart-washing machine to wash and sanitize the room service delivery carts and soiled tray carts.


Reading-Hospital-CounterThe salad bar has convertible hot/cold pans to allow flexibility. Photo courtesy of Reading Health Photo courtesy of King + King"The old servery was a tight, dated space that was difficult for the employees using it to move through efficiently," Kipe says. The new servery is more than double the size of the original, inviting open circulation for guests and staff. In addition, the ceilings were heightened and the finishes updated to create a cleaner space.

Employee transactions account for nearly 92 percent of the servery's business. Today's servery stations offer much more diversity than in the past. The addition of Robison, a classically trained chef, brings an entirely new level of quality to the menu offerings.

Stations include a self-serve gourmet coffee bar featuring locally roasted coffee and a selection of flavored syrups.

A deli/panini station serves made-to-order sandwiches and soups. Staff use refrigerated rails and holding wells to keep the food fresh and at proper temperatures.

Cafeteria-Deli-afterAt the deli/panini station, staff use refrigerated rails and holding wells to keep the food fresh and at proper temperatures.The grill, pizza and exhibition stations are set up for exhibition cooking. At the full-service grill featuring an extensive breakfast and lunch sandwich menu, staff work with a 48-inch broiler, fryer, 2-burner range and 12-inch griddle. At the made-from-scratch pizza station, staff prepare an average of sixty 18-inch pizzas per day using a pizza oven.

The entrée station features an action station during the lunch period where cooks use a broiler, fryer and two-burner range to prepare grilled shrimp with coconut curry sauce, sautéed vegetable quinoa, and sautéed zucchini and red peppers. A self-serve du jour station with two entrées, fresh vegetables and sides offers other menu options, which are sold by weight.

Each day, the extensive self-serve salad bar offers up to 60 greens, toppings and composed salads. The soup station features three soups and a chili daily. Pastries displayed on shelving placed prominently near the servery's entrance tempt customers to try a sweet indulgence.

"The specialty and salad bar, soup and pastry stations have convertible hot/cold pans to allow flexibility to serve either hot or cold items," Stafford says. "We selected these not only for daily service but because the dining department puts on special functions such as holiday meals. For the special event to thank employees for their patience during the past winter of brutal cold and snowstorms, dining served about 3,000 people a complimentary meal in one day, and they had to move them through quickly. The pan flexibility helps."

Reading-Hospital-grab-and-goFor customers who want grab-and-go selections, this station features refrigerated display cases with daily sushi platters, sandwiches, salads, snacks, desserts and cold beverages. Cold beverages and coffee offerings round out the diverse menu offerings.

When customers exit the servery, they move through one of three cash stands. A large double-sided condiment stand sits close to the cash stands for ease of picking up utensils and condiments.

Dining Room

The renovated 5,100-square-foot dining room maintains a traditional ambiance and keeps with the property's traditional Neo-Georgian architecture. "To provide a gift to the hospital employees to give them a place for respite during their day at work, we increased the daylight into the space, and chose finishes that were durable, including keeping the existing terrazzo flooring in the dining room," Mack says.

Reading-Hospital-Dining-Room-06The renovated 9,000-square-foot, 330-seat dining room increases daylight into the space. The new room features upgraded finishes, a wide range of mixed-style seating and an improved ceiling grid with wood-like metal panels for the ceiling tiles, which were perforated for sound absorption. Photo courtesy of King + King"What once was reminiscent of a 1950s high school cafeteria is now a warm, welcoming place for staff to relax and recharge," says Jeffrey Pawlowski, architectural designer at King + King Architects. "Providing areas of respite for staff are critical for employee retention and recruitment in any market. The rejuvenated staff dining area allows for staff members to come together during all hours. The servery can be shut down, but the dining room can stay open. It provides an escape where clinicians and even hospital administrators can enjoy their meals without an interruption to their

The new room features upgraded finishes, a variety of seating styles and an improved ceiling grid with metal panels that have a wood-like appearance and ceiling tiles that were perforated for sound absorption.

Another dining room feature is a large water and ice station with three ice machines. Before the renovation, Kipe realized that one ice machine wasn't sufficient because employees came down and filled up ice bins to take to their work locations.

In the future, Kipe and the dining staff will continue to offer high-end catering within the hospital, a service that was suspended during the renovation.

Design Capsule

  • Reading Health System: Includes Reading Hospital, a 700-bed acute-care hospital, and Reading Health Rehabilitation Hospital in Spring Township, featuring a 50-bed skilled-nursing unit and a 62-bed inpatient rehabilitation unit
  • Hospital Employees: 7,000; 4,000 on-site daily
  • Opened: November 2013
  • Scope and Size of Project: This renovation of 75 percent of a two-level, 36,000-sq.-ft. building built in 1952 includes a 400-sq.-ft. bistro, Counter Clockwise, and 5,880-sq.-ft. kitchen renovation with room service lines, 1,100-sq.-ft. dishroom, 4,150-sq.-ft. servery and 5,100-sq.-ft. dining room facelift. Also renovated were conference rooms and office spaces.
  • Servery Stations: A self-serve gourmet coffee bar; deli/panini station; full-service grill with an extensive breakfast and lunch sandwich menu, a made-from-scratch pizza station, a self-serve du jour station with two gourmet entrées, fresh vegetables and sides; an action station; self-serve salad bar; grab-and-go selections
  • Seats: 330
  • Transactions: 2,800 transactions for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hospital employees make nearly 92 percent of the transactions.
  • Average Check: $4.10
  • Monthly Gross Revenue: $275,100
  • Monthly Net Revenue (after 30 percent employee discount and 6 percent sales tax): $214,216
  • Servery Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Room Service Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily
  • Staff: 210
  • Total Project Cost: $9 million, including $6.85 million for construction, electrical and plumbing
  • Equipment Investment: $1.65 million
  • Website: https://www.readinghealth.org/patients-visitors/dining

Key Players

  • Ownership: Reading Health System
  • Director, Nutrition Services: Margaret Kipe, MS ED, RD, LDN, FABC
  • Manager, Retail Food Operations: Dennis Brennan
  • Executive Chef: David Robison
  • Architects and Interior Design: King + King Architects, Syracuse, N.Y.; Kristie Mack, project manager, Jeffrey Pawlowski, associate AIA, architectural designer; Debra Conan, NCIDQ
  • Foodservice Consultant: Charnette Norton, MS, RD, LDN, FADA, FAND, FFSCI, Missouri City, Texas
  • Foodservice Design Consultants: Stafford Design Group Inc., Minden, Nev.; Tim Stafford, FCSI, AIA, principal; and Foodservice Venues, Wood Dale, Ill.; Tad Domek, design consultant
  • Equipment Dealer: Singer Equipment Co., N.J.
  • Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing Consultants: Leach Wallace Associates, Baltimore, Md.

Tower Café, located on the ground floor

The menu at Tower Café, opened in 2007, leans toward lighter fare and features made-to-order salads, sandwiches and panini. Three soups/chilis are offered daily. Tower Café also features a barista bar offering gourmet coffee, espresso drinks and smoothies. Grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, desserts and snacks are also available. Most of the hospital catering (for meetings and the like) are serviced from this outlet. Approximately $8,000 of monthly gross revenue comes from catering.

  • Seats: 135
  • Hours: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., weekdays; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., weekends and holidays
  • Monthly Gross Revenue: $83,700
  • Monthly Net Revenue (after 30 percent employee discount and 6 percent sales tax): $74,393

Patio Grille, located in E-Building, ground floor

Patio Grille has operated in one form or another for decades. The main feature of this outlet is a walk-up service area that includes hot wells, a flattop grill and a deli line, all facing the customer.
Consequently, most of the items served here are made to order.

  • Patio Grille also offers grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, desserts and snacks. A made-to-order sushi bar is also featured. The sushi bar also produces sushi platters for sale in both the employee cafeteria and the Tower Café.
  • Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., weekdays
  • Monthly Gross Revenue: $81,200
  • Monthly Net Revenue (after 30 percent employee
  • discount and 6 percent sales tax): $64,495

Café in the Reading Health Rehabilitation Hospital


This space offers a relaxed, comfortable, open environment with natural light. Diners choose from made-to-order selections at the deli and grill stations or purchase items to go. Healthy options include a salad bar at lunch and a yogurt-cereal bar at breakfast. The dessert bar offers special treats.

  • Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., weekdays
  • Seats: 90
  • Monthly Gross Revenue: $5,000
  • Monthly Net Revenue (after 30 percent employee
  • discount and 6 percent sales tax): $3,800