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Best Renovation: Café 36, Microsoft and Eurest

A product of Microsoft’s Café Lifecycle remodel program, Café 36 now features exhibition cooking suites integrated into seating areas, nine high-impact station concepts and hydroponic towers.

One of the corporate dining segment’s most innovative programs, the onsite foodservice operation at Microsoft’s headquarters campus in Redmond, Wash., brims with spectacular venues serving delicious, trendy, yet very healthful food with an incredible amount of variety.

Part of the strategy for ensuring that standards remain upheld and venues and concepts don’t get stale is the Café Lifecycle remodel program that is part of a strategy to continuously improve and enhance the Microsoft customer experience in dining venues by bringing culinary advancement, technology integration, innovative brands and improved ambiance through regular upgrades.

The goal is to drive customer satisfaction and employee participation, which in turn is expected to enhance employee productivity as well as “attract, develop and keep” talent per the company mission.

Last year, Café 36 was chosen for Lifecycle Remodeling due to the facility’s age and declining performance metrics. Closed on Nov. 20 for redesign by architect firm MG2 using focus group and remodel survey data that encompassed everything from design and lighting to seating and food concepts/brands, Café 36 was reopened earlier this year.

The overall design theme for the remodel was Livening Up the Dining Space, which was manifested in the concept mix, with exhibition cooking suites integrated into seating areas. There are five feature/anchor stations:

  • Coop de Grille, a “luxurious” chicken and ranch fare concept combined with grill items;
  • Dekotora Teriyaki & Ramen, which offers a variety of teriyaki bowls, kebabs and entrees;
  • Himalaya, with authentic Indian cuisine;
  • Veloce, featuring cut-to-order Roman-style pizza; and
  • Bosque, which offers build-your-own burritos, bowls, tacos and salads.

In addition to these, the café includes four other concepts, plus a Pepsi Spire machine that along with infused waters, canned beverages and milk is part of a robust free beverage program. The other four concepts are:

  • Butcher + Baker, a deli featuring open-faced and build-your-own sandwiches;
  • Thirty-Six Farm, with fresh greens, scratch-made dressings and hot toppers;
  • Evergreen Plate, featuring items sourced from Washington State; and
  • Espresso, with Caffe Ladro-branded coffee and Two Leaves branded teas.

In addition, Café 36 features urban cultivators that grow 100 percent GMO-free microgreens and hydroponic towers growing fresh, organic greens for the café. MG2 wove this theme into the finishes, art, seating and décor while the [email protected] team created compelling menus and station setups that would highlight food quality, variety and exhibition cooking.

Café 36 is 100 percent cashless and cashierless, so customers only need to 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. The technology is also available at the complementary 24/7 [email protected] c-store next to the café, which uses a barcode scanning system.

TAGS: Management
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