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.


2004 September Facility Design Project of the Month: Northwest Community Hospital, Arlington Heights, Ill


Charbroilers, a deck oven, steamers, fryers and other production and serving equipment now occupy a space once furnished with operating tables and gurneys. This Midwest hospital's former surgical suite has been transformed into a foodservice that includes Oasis, a marketplace-style servery, and a full kitchen with patient tray assembly and storage areas.


When doctors, nurses, staff and visitors at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Ill., need a respite from medical concerns, they can now visit Oasis, a new dining facility opened in June 2003. Water walls and glass panels juxtaposed to emphasize concave and convex shapes were among the design features selected by architects OWP/P of Chicago for this $9 million renovation.

The result of the 2003 facility renovation is a foodservice operation with more sophistication than had ever been developed at this community hospital. Designed by OWP/P and Robert Rippe & Associates Inc. of Minnetonka, Minn., the project's foodservice consultant, the servery now includes 10 food serving concepts, including a hot entrée station, which is equipped with hot food wells, a heated display case, a heated plate dispenser, a work counter and pass-through warming cabinets. Many stations here are equipped to prepare a la minute menu items as customers look on. For example, the grill station is equipped with hot food, serving and work counters, a display warmer, heat lamps, a heated display case, undercounter and reach-in refrigerators, a grill, a charbroiler and a two-section fryer with a dump station and exhaust hood. During early morning hours, breakfast items, including eggs, bacon and sausage, made-to-order omelets and hash browns, are produced here. In mid-morning, the menu changes to lunch and dinner fare, such as hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled sandwiches and french fries.

As customers enter the marketplace-style Oasis servery, curved stations and the positioning of the service points themselves ease circulation through the 3,835-square-foot space. "In the old facility, there was a lot of cross-traffic," recalled Director of Nutrition & Foodservices Forbes Borthwick. "In the new operation, customers walk through the servery, out through the cash registers and drop off their trays at the other end."

The deli station, which is attached to the bakery/beverage station, is equipped with a refrigerated display case, work and serving counters, an undercounter refrigerator and a freezer, as well as a fryer and a grill. This station is kept open during normal hours, as well as during overnight shifts.

A self-serve pizza station here features a two-section, brick-lined deck oven, along with a heated plate dispenser, an exhaust hood, heat lamps and a heated shelf. Adjacent to this station are self-serve refrigerated cases that display beverages and cold sandwiches, salads and desserts.

After customers have selected their menu items from servery stations, they pass through cashier stations, where Borthwick was recently reviewing his operation.

Borthwick took a moment to look at one of two large-screen television monitors, which is positioned at a coffee bar located in a hallway, at which customers frequently stop for coffee and conversation.

In the back of the house, a kitchen area is dedicated to bulk preparation of sauces, soups and meats that are incorporated into menus for Oasis and patient trays. Equipment installed here includes two, two-section combi ovens, a two-section roasting oven, a range with oven and spreader, a tilting fry pan, two 40-gallon wall-hung kettles, an exhaust hood, a blast-chiller, utility carts, prep tables, a 30-quart mixer and a bain marie with condensate hood.

A 26-foot-long line is used to prepare 900 trays daily. Three hundred plates are assembled three times a day, each time in approximately 60 minutes, and are then taken to patient floors. The kitchen had to be laid out in two separate square areas. "Storage was located on one side and prep on the other due to requirements caused by existing elevators," noted Rippe. Added Borthwick, "We also created a new hallway, so food carts don't go through public areas; they go through a corridor right into the dishroom. This way, we can keep the clean and dirty dishes separate."

All foods for patients are brought to the trayline in a two-section roll-through refrigerator and mobile air-screen refrigerators. Assembled trays are placed in carts for delivery to patient floors. Staff members who deliver trays have continued a tradition started several years ago of dressing in tuxedo-style uniforms to create an upscale, positive image for their department.

A catering kitchen supports the preparation of menu items for in-house meetings and special events.

The kitchen's walk-in coolers were installed to store products used in all facets of the operation. The entire back-of-the-house area is 10,630-square-feet. "We have a well-lit area that's easily cared for," explained Borthwick. "We used lots of stainless steel and arranged equipment for an efficient and productive workflow."