The kitchen is a hot spot on university campuses across the nation — as well as in corporations, retirement centers, hospitals, food halls and other public spaces. And we’re not talking the familiar behind-the-scenes, back-of-the-house commercial kitchen where chefs and cooks do their thing. Rather, these emerging hot spots are kitchens designed and built as teaching facilities, where education, engagement and community building around food are primary objectives.
There was a time when patient feeding was the center of the healthcare foodservice universe. Thanks to insurance companies and managed care, though, the length of time patients spend in hospitals continues to shrink. As a result, most healthcare foodservice operations tend to resemble more of a hybrid model, one that includes some patient feeding with a growing emphasis on corporate dining/retail solutions, catering and more.
Students living in Alumni Quad residence hall at the University at Albany in Albany, N.Y., enjoy the benefit of eating in the university’s most recently renovated dining hall. “We had an all-you-care-to-eat dining program with a service line, but it wasn’t working,” says Stephen Pearse, executive director, University Auxiliary Services. “Students who live at this downtown campus location are transient, attending classes uptown, and their traffic patterns were inconsistent. We couldn’t keep them satisfied.”
Food and nutrition services leaders in hospitals and senior living facilities face daunting challenges in this era of unpredictability about government funding, the effect of mergers and acquisitions among healthcare systems and staff recruiting and retention.
For foodservice operators considering entering a space previously occupied by another restaurant, veteran service agent John Schwindt offers a few pointers on evaluating existing infrastructure items such as hoods, grease traps and walk-ins.
What’s new in college and university foodservice catering? A lot, as it turns out.
Behind any kitchen upgrade lies the drive for greater efficiency. Many chefs dream of a complete renovation. Not every operation, though, can fund an extravagant redesign in the back of the house.