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FM Best Concepts
Caf 83 MicrosoftEurest

Best New Facility: Café 83 offers variety in an artistic dining environment

Each year Food Management honors operations for excellence and innovation in our Best Concepts awards program. Read more on this year’s winners. 

The Microsoft campus in Redmond, Wash., already bristles with dozens of innovative and attractive dining options, but when the company set out plans to add a new building that would include a foodservice space, it presented the dining team with an opportunity to try something different.

“The population on the Microsoft Campus continues to expand and with this comes the need for more dining options,” explains Mark Freeman, senior manager of global employee services. “With this project we had the opportunity to build a café from the ground up and to make a space that looks as interesting as the food is delicious.”

Since opening, Café 83 has become a customer favorite due to its unique design, artsy and fun atmosphere, delicious food offerings and value-added services. Among its customer-pleasing features are…
• its artistic marketplace theme with creative indoor and outdoor seating; 
• the exhibition cooking suites integrated into seating areas;
• versatile seating options;
• 100 percent cashless and cashierless touchscreen ordering and payment 
• a 24/7 [email protected] 83 convenience store featuring snacks, grab-and-go items, beverages and bulk foods;
• the rotation of local restaurant brands to enhance daily flavor offerings;
• a robust free beverage program, including Coke Freestyle machines, infused waters and infused lemonade as well as canned beverages and milks;
• customer ambassadors assigned to each station to assist with ordering and customer questions
• a uniquely branded café logo and uniforms;
• Landfill-Recycle-Compost stations with bus tubs for china and silverware;
• an updated lighting and sound system;
• an enhanced espresso station featuring local Dillanos coffee.

So far, Café 83 has been deemed a huge success, drawing an average of 1,185 daily transactions with a $4.86 check average.

Café 83 opened Sept. 8, 2015, but planning took place for about nine months prior to that, including the conducting of focus groups and preremodel surveys with customers to establish benchmarks and identify and define the ultimate customer experience from design to lighting to seating to food concepts and brands.

The goals for Café 83 were to drive participation, enhance meaningful technology into the customer experience, drive guest satisfaction, enhance customer convenience and reduce queue times, Freeman says.

The overall design theme for Café 83 is “Fun, Artistic Food Pavilion,” a theme that architect firm Dynamik wove into the finishes, art, seating and décor, while the Dining at Microsoft team and management company Eurest created compelling menus and station setups that would highlight food quality, variety and exhibition cooking. Unique uniforms were also chosen utilizing a clean, Northwest look and feel.

The feature/anchor station of the new café is Northwest Dock, which menus locally sourced seafood prepared in a variety of ways. There’s also Coop, serving home-style fried chicken, sandwiches, baskets, wraps and more. 

The other stations are…
• Above the Bread: handcrafted, open-faced artisan sandwiches;
• Harvest: tossed-to-order specialty salads;
• Napoli Americano: authentic Neapolitan pizza with American twists;
• Gather Salad Bar & Soups: fresh greens, scratch-made dressings and housemade soups;
• Shift + Burger: old-fashioned burgers, hand-cut fries and shakes;
• Hometown: rotating local restaurant brands at a station designed to look like a food truck;
• Gather: fresh greens, scratch-made dressings and rotating hot toppers;
• Evoke Espresso: an espresso bar featuring local Dillanos coffee products plus local pastries and prepared foods.

Another key focus area for Café 83 was meaningful Microsoft technology integration. It is a 100 percent cashless/cashierless café as customers place and pay for their orders on touchscreen devices that run on a Microsoft platform. Their order number then appears on an order status monitor screen, showing as yellow when the order is in progress and changing to green when it is ready. 

This technology is also available in the 24/7 [email protected] convenience store located just outside of Café 83, which uses a barcode scanning system to enable customers to check out their selections. Café 83 also features Coke Freestyle machines, which run on a Windows-embedded platform.

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