Call Center Convenience
On large campuses, c-stores that provide satellite service during the day can also offer limited, after-hours food service.
Convenience stores supplying snacks, grab-andgo items and beverages have filled a late-night void for JPMorgan Chase operations centers in several locations across the country.
The centers typically consist of multiple buildings laid out on a campus; typically, one building houses a full-service cafè that is open until 2:30 or 3:00, with c-stores located as satellite operations at other locations on the campus. After the main cafè closes, the c-stores remain open until about 8:00 p.m.
During the day, the stores serve as quick grabandgo break locations for workers in their respective buildings. They can head to the main cafè if they have the time and seek a better selection. In the evening hours the c-stores meet the needs of a pared-down staff.
"If a campus has a capacity of 2,000, there may be 400 who are there after-hours," says Charlie Stock, vice president of regional operations and planning for the company.
The convenience stores sell sandwiches, wraps, and salads (made fresh in the cafeteria daily), fresh fruit, pizza, chicken fingers, hot dogs and a wide array of snacks. Self-serve Starbucks coffee, other hot drinks and frozen drinks are available as well. Generally a single person is able to manage store operations in the evening.
Even if the cafeteria were open, Stock doesn't-believe it would see much traffic. The typical evening customer is a younger employee, "and they tend to be snackers," he says. "They typically would rather buy three items that cost between $1.25 and $1.50, than one item that costs $4.50." The fastest moving items in the c-store at that time are snacks, bottled soft drinks and coffee.
Because call center staffs typically have short lunch breaks, Stock notes that few leave the campus to go to quickservice restaurants; instead, they're more likely to pack a lunch or pick up something at an outside convenience store. To stay competitive, prices at the JPMorgan Chase stores are set to be on a par with or slightly below those of the outside world.
Taking Care of It's Own
Self-service salad and pasta bars can help reduce labor costs when providing after-hours cafè options.
In New York's legal community, where attorneys, associates and assistants often work long hours, some firms are known for offering dinner service to help make the demanding work schedules more palatable to employees.
One such firm, which serves about 600-700 lunches a day from an impressively stocked cafÈ, makes a scaled-down version of its menu available for anywhere from 160 to 240 overtime staffers each evening. Dominick Di'Angelo, the Sodexho GM who runs the operation, says the firm calls upon Sodexho to provide the meals as a way of thanking hard-working employees for their extra effort.
"The company really wants to take care of its people," he says. "If someones works overtime, the firm wants to ensure that he or she gets a good meal and a car ride home."
During the day, Di'Angelo oversees an operation that offers three salad bars; a full grill; a choice of two soups a day; specialty breads; a themed cooking station; a deli station; an antipasto bar; a panini station with five choices; a hot food line with five or six entrees, two vegetables and two starches; and a dessert station that consistently offers a choice of five different pies, five cookie styles and cobblers.
At night time, that gets scaled back to a single salad bar, a fruit bar and an antipasto bar, strombolis and pizza, six entrees, desserts and a full grill. Batch cooking makes special orders possible. Many items are already packaged to go, including three different salads, fruit and cheese plates, desserts, and sandwiches. Operations for the 6:30-8:30 dinner service require staffing that is about a third of that needed during the day.
While running such an extensive in-house service is not an inexpensive proposition, it has clearly helped the firm attract a highly qualified employee base. By making afterhours foodservice a convenient and attractive option, the firm keeps its attorneys and overtime clerical staff happy and focused on getting the job done.
Di'Angelo says the dinner service has quite a following among the overtime regulars. "We have a line of people waiting to come every night at 6:30," he says.
On-line ordering lets foodservice department manage onsite meal deliveries from local restaurants.
Like other big city financial and legal firms, Bear, Stearns & Company's corporate headquarters in New York City provides an evening meal for associates working overnight or overtime. Traditionally, employees in that situation would order out and periodically submit the charges on expense reports. But years of paperwork headaches and the difficulty of managing dinner spending convinced management at the investment banking and securities firm to seek an alternative after-hours dining solution.
Enter SeamlessWeb, an online meal and catering procurement service. Since switching overtime employees to SeamlessWeb just over a year ago, Bear Stearns has slashed its meal expense and administrative costs, says Bill Adams, associate director of office services. "It's a wonderful program," he beams.
The typical evening customer is a younger employee, and "they tend to be snackers."
Giving employees the freedom to order out late meals makes a lot of sense at Bear Stearns. Some 5,000 staffers keep the company's cafeteria humming until it closes at 5:00, but their ranks shrink to only about 200 after the end of the normal workday.
Taking up the slack are scores of nearby restaurants that are more than happy to deliver, and which can offer their takeout menus to Bear Stearns employees via the Seamless Web program.
About 100 establishments that are part of SeamlessWeb's network. To order, employees sign in to a website using their employee identification number and a special code, place their orders, and pick the meals up on the building's first floor. (Deliveries cannot be made to individual offices for security reasons).
"We control how much employees spend and the hours when spending can occur."
Adams says the company tries to limit dinner spending to $25, although there are some exceptions. The ordering system allows the company to cap spending and to make exceptions for specified reasons.
The program has solved the two major problems. "It lets us control how much employees spend on after-hours meals and to specify the hours when spending can occur, with all charges coming on a single invoice from the company," Adams says. He notes there are also "soft" savings since afterhours employees no longer spend time collecting receipts and completing expense reports. SeamlessWeb charges a small pertransaction fee that more than offsets the cost of processing 200 different T&E reports weekly that had formerly been incurred.
Centralizing and automating dinner charges also allows department managers to monitor spending more closely. Bear Stearns users can assign designated department and client charge codes to their orders, which simplifies accounting.
Dining All Day...and Night
In a high-tech manufacturing environment, foodservice is an important benefit for workers on duty around the clock.
After-hours dining options are crucial to helping 4,600 employees keep HP's Corvallis, OR, facility humming round the clock. The manufacturing and research and development teams that staff the cluster of buildings on campus can get their food from a variety of Sodexho-run operations throughout the day and into the evening.
Two cafès serve as the main dining facilities. Located about three-quarters of a mile apart on the campus, each has a seating-capacity for 400. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. until 9:30 and lunch from 11:00 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. They are open between meals and stay open until 2:30 p.m.. One of the cafès re-opens between 7:00 and 8:30 p.m., serving a complete hot meal that reflects the daily lunch selections, along with prepared sandwiches and paninis, yogurt and other snack items.
The cafè re-opens again between12:00 a.m. and 1:30 a.m., when freshly-made hot and cold breakfast items are available. Sodexho surveyed employees to determine when they were likely to eat before setting up the schedule.
Breakfast at midnight? A number of people start their workday during the wee hours, and "that's their morning," says Deborah Jenkins, the Sodexho GM in charge of the Corvallis location.
About 30-60 employees patronize the cafè in each of the after-hours periods, compared to the thousands who eat breakfast and lunch there. But Jenkins says she is seeing an increase in the number using the cafè for after-hours dining. One person can handle both the register and the required prep work, since the menu offerings are based on the daily specials offered at the cafè.
Why go to the trouble to open up for such a small group?
"That's when a lot of the manufacturing is done, and there are not a lot of options for those folks in the off-hours," Jenkins says. "It's about providing added value and customized services for our customers."
At times other than the designated cafè operating hours, vending machines provide fresh options such as microwaveable meals, wraps, calzones, specialty salads and other items, all prepared on-site. The machines are restocked every three days.
The Corvallis plant also offers a convenience store, called 7-24, which is open from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The store serves about 460 customers a day and sells salads, sandwiches, soups, hot dogs, snacks and other quickservice items. Top sellers are biscuits and gravy and hot dogs.