HCA Palms of Pasadena Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., is enjoying a rejuvenation of its dining program for patients and staff and visitors thanks to a fully renovated foodservice infrastructure that includes a new retail café and a new production kitchen that supports a newly implemented room service dining program that operates from 6:30 in the morning to 6:45 in the evening daily.
“It was about 30 years old,” says David Hendriks, director of food & nutrition services, of the previous facility, “and we tore it down totally, a total rebuild.”
The newly remodeled café has a grill and cook-to-order sauté station where customers can not only get burgers, pizza and chicken sandwiches but also more exotic fare like paella and quinoa bowls. There’s also a salad bar with some 30 items and a bakery station where diners can get freshly baked cakes and other desserts.
Another new menu feature is ethnic days where particular cuisine traditions are highlighted. “One day, maybe we’ll do Latin American, another day it may be Asian or Italian,” Hendriks explains. Other strategies to encourage participation include $5 combo specials that incorporate an entrée, side and beverage. The specials include such selections as specialty burgers, turkey sliders, pork tacos with avocado pico de gallo and black bean/corn/rice, balsamic-glazed shrimp with herb quinoa and wild-caught Scottish salmon with grilled asparagus.
The selections are also available to patients on the room service menu, diet permitting. One unusual aspect of the patient dining program at Palms of Pasadena is the hospital’s BCIR (Barnett Continent Intestinal Reservoir) unit, the only one of its kind in the country, according to Hendriks, in which patient stays can extend to 30 to 40 days, “so menu variety is important,” he says.
“You can also call down because we have a menu on the intranet for the hospital staff, so they can fill that out and fax or email it down to us and let us know when you want to pick it up,” Hendriks adds. The remote ordering, which is offered only during lunchtime, does not include pre-payment but Hendriks says unclaimed orders aren’t particularly an issue: “I haven’t had that problem at all yet,” he says.
Preorders run 30 to 40 a day, he estimates.
The café redesign preceded Hendriks joining the hospital. “It was designed before I got here—I got here a couple months before it was started,” he says. “They kept the same size, but I did get the hot wells put in, and the salad bar. We also now have a new outdoor seating area with tables with umbrellas.”
Since the remodel’s debut last year, the café has adjusted to demonstrated customer preferences by upping its quotient of grab-and-go selections. “People sometimes don’t have much time, so they like to grab something and get going quickly,” Hendriks offers. “My check average has increased also. It was up to $4.98 last month and I was certainly happy with that.”
The café serves all three daily dayparts, with breakfast being unusually popular, with its selection of omelets, egg and cheese quesadillas and quiches being especially attractive to customers. The daypart menus are separated into distinct serving periods, with breakfast from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner between 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.
The café is, of course, popular with staff, who are the regulars, but it also draws a fair share of visitors, including those who come from off-campus specifically for the reasonably priced food.
“And with the long-term stay patients, their families also tend to stay in the area, so they also come in quite often,” Hendriks adds.
Palms is a 200-bed facility with an average daily census in the 100 to 110 range. The café averages about 300 customers a day