A Sweet Business

A Sweet Business

There is much satisfaction in the art of baking (and eating) a good cake. With a legion of elegant and decadent recipes in their repertoire—Lemon Whisper, Italian Wedding, Chocolate Loving Spoonful, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup—the bakers at Lakeland Regional Medical Center's Parkview Cafè know the importance of the wow—and the yum—factor.

"Everyday the bakery case is filled with beautiful cakes, pastries, eclairs and brownies," says Retail Foodservice Manager, Thomas Lawson. "The bakers take great pride in their work and our customers appreciate the extra effort."

Whether it's tiramisu, chocolate chip cookies, banana breads, cinnamon buns, amaretto almond cheesecake, or customer service, LRMC's bakers are attuned to their, customers as well as their customers customers.

"Our primary customers are the doctors, the nurses, the surgeons, and the administrative staff, but indirectly we also take care of the patients," says Lawson. "When a hospital employee comes into the Parkview Cafè, we want them to leave nourished, refreshed and reenergized. After they're finished here they're going to return to the patients. While they are 'under our care,' so-to-speak, if we can somehow go above and beyond to make their dining experience that much more enjoyable, we hope they'll take that feeling with them to the patient."

Pay It Forward
Growth takes investment. And profitable growth takes investment in people and an ongoing attention to relationships.

"It's about reaching out and connecting with one another to form a chain of service," says Lawson. "Amazingly, it's the small things, like the big chocolate chip cookies we bake fresh daily, that have the most impact."

The parfaits are another good example, adds Lawson. These single serving parfaits not only add color to the case, but boast a number of other benefits as well.

Because the bakery also houses the ice cream bar, LRMC's bakers cooked up a rather inventive option to expand the existing menu.

"They use a chocolate pudding and create layers with the toppings from the ice cream bar, like pecans, walnuts and chocolate sprinkles. It doesn't take long to create the parfaits and the bakers enjoy the creative outlet. Priced under a dollar, the customers are thrilled with them."

On the day of its debut, the parfaits sold out in less than one hour. "That was the best feedback we've ever received," says Lawson.

Currently the bakers produce about 70 parfaits daily with 15 different toppings. And according to Lawson, they sell out everyday.

Icing on the Cake
"One of our bakers brought in a recipe for a traditional Italian Wedding Cake (see recipe). He asked me if we could try the recipe in the bakeshop," says Lawson. "We put the cake into the case and a woman ordered a piece. She took the cake to her table, ate one bite and returned to the counter. The baker asked if everything was all right. The woman smiled ear to ear. She asked if she could order a whole cake to take home to her family."

The cakes, cookies, pies and pastries made fresh in the bakeshop at the LRMC not only taste delicious, but have lasting and profitable effects on the business, the hospital, the staff and even the patients.

PHOTO JOHN BISWANGER