Director Lisette coston, flanked here by chef Albert Marvin (l.) and Food court Manager John Faunt Le roy, has led the renovation of st. Francis's retail foodservice over a period of seven years. Additions include self-branded concepts like chef's chalkboard and manufacturer branded concepts like smash Hits Deli.
The retail cafeteria at st. Francis's main hospital incorporates a central island that offers several serving outlets including salad, soup and the selfserve Daily special stations. A retail area near the checkout offers about a hundred candy, snack and personal care items.
"We Proudly Brew" starbucks branded coffee kiosks offer the full gamut of the chain's beverage offerings, along with grab-and-go baked goods, sandwiches and salads.
Almost 10 years ago, Lisette Coston faced a very familiar crisis. The new nutrition & foodservice director for St. Francis Health System in Tulsa, OK, she was confronted with an outdated retail operation, cellar-dwelling satisfaction scores and a dearth of capital dollars to effect any meaningful change.
A consultant hired to look into the situation came back with a recommendation for a renovation priced at $2.4 million, a price tag that proved untenable.
"I had to be creative and look for unconventional sources for funding," she says.
That unconventionality and creativity has resulted in a neardoubling of her retail revenues despite largely holding the line on price increases. More traffic and increased check averages, thanks to appealing new concepts and food choices, have been the prime reasons for the increase.
Coston and her team remodeled the cafeteria in the system's main hospital, adding a series of self and manufacturer branded concepts along with a c-store and coffee kiosk near the entrance. She also implemented a new cash register system with payroll deduction that paid back its $70,000 investment in only seven months—about half the time of the original estimate.
Coston is not finished, either. On tap for the near future:
• a retail operation in the adjacent Warren Clinic professional building, scheduled to open in October;
• a new 104-bed children's hospital in which she will have a retail operation as well as patient dining, scheduled to open in January;
• system-wide implementation of a patient room service program;
• several more coffee kiosks at key intercept points to capture coffee and grab-and-go meal business;
• a major kitchen renovation at the operation at the rapidly expanding St. Francis South campus, where plans call for the bed count to jump from 52 to more than 200 in the next year;
• an online ordering option for system employees sometime next few years.
A Growing System
Coston is responsible for onsite dining services for three major clinical facilities in the St. Francis Health System: the 696-bed main hospital, the rapidly expanding St. Francis South and a 91-bed psychiatric hospital.
At the main facility, average daily patient counts are over 600, so this is where plans to convert entirely to room service will face the biggest challenge (room service is already in place at St. Francis South and in the main facility's cardiac unit and will be implemented from the start at the new children's hospital).
The conversion is scheduled to take place before the end of the year, Coston says, and will entail ditching the current cook-chill system and reconstructing the tray line area to add a cooking line.
The major work in the main facility has already occured over the past seven years in the retail operation. That was where the organizational rejection of the original $2.4 million price tag prompted the rethink.
"My biggest initiative was to introduce branding," Coston says. Using a variety of creative funding sources—from vending and volunteer monies to marketing opportunities from vendors and the department's own budgeted funds—they renovated the 12,000-sq.ft. retail operation.
Our biggest success story came after we introduced our first three branded concepts," she recalls. These were Stone Willy's Pizza, a franchised concept from Hot Stuff Foods; Sunset Strips from Tyson Foods; and a Starbucks Coffee station. The total cost: $21,000, derived from vending and departmental capital dollars.
"All of these changes sparked incremental sales, excitement and, ultimately, increased satisfaction," Coston says.
The buzz shook loose $300,000 from the institution for food court renovations. That paid for a custom-built multi-station island, a new beverage island, new seating area furniture, flooring, signs and custom finishes, as well as two more Hot Stuff concepts: Smash Hit Subs (now called Smash Hit Deli) and Cinnamon Street (later converted to Phat Burritos). The custom-built island incorporates refrigeration and includes a salad bar, soup bar and a self-serve bar called Daily Special that features a seven-week cycle themed bar rotating Italian, country-style, Mexican and other popular menu themes.
"We personalized our own branding by adding a demo station called Chef's Chalkboard where on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we prepare unique menu items like Southwest brisket salad, omelets, grilled Monte Cristos and panini sandwiches," Coston says. On Thursdays and Fridays, the station converts to a branded Austin Blues Barbecue.
Other additions included a home meal replacement program, grab-and-go selections, another self-branded station called House Favorites that serves traditional entreï¿´´s, and a small convenience retailing area near the checkout.
More recently, the department was able to add a coffee kiosk in the main lobby that now generates some $700 in daily revenue, and a new POS system with payroll deduction capability. Currently, 53% of St. Francis employees participate in the payroll deduction program.
The coffee kiosk, called Cafï¿´´ Francisco, is a fairly comprehensive operation.
"We do the full gamut of Starbucks's offerings, including frozen drinks, iced coffees and chai tea," Coston says. The food—packaged sandwiches, salads and baked goods—is made in the main retail kitchen.
"We work with Sunset Strips on the menu," Coston offers. Many of the specialty salads use the station's chicken products and are sold with the Sunset Strips brand.
Coston plans to open similar kiosks with the same broad menu in the new children's hospital and in the Warren Clinic building.
The Cinnamon Street and Stone Willy's Pizza stations in the food court were recently changed to add greater menu flexibility. Cinnamon Street is now Phat Burrito and Stone Willy's has become Hot Stuff Foods.
"We still offer cinnabuns and soft cinnamon rolls, but we wanted to add more variety," Coston explains. "Just by adding a small warmer and a steamer to the station we are able to do burritos."
Meanwhile, the Hot Stuff Foods concept is more flexible than Stone Willy's, allowing a station previously limited to pizzas and similar items to add offerings like egg rolls, breadsticks, apple and cherry turnovers, breakfast sandwiches, stuffed croissants, breakfast burritos and breakfast pizzas, "so we're able to utilize the concept at breakfast as well as lunch," Coston says.
"Our revenue is now double what it used to be since we added all these concepts," she adds. "We didn't raise prices as much as you would think. We've kept up with inflation, but mostly we just added variety. The payroll deduction option, introduced in December 2005, also helped."
The changes have dramatically increased customer satisfaction—it leapt from 66 to 84 percent overall—which in turn led to increased customer counts and increased check averages.
Coston is not sitting on her laurels. "We have gotten approval to add a web-based program that will let people order online, and we plan to add that in the next year," she says. "My goal is to have it in all my retail areas."
The St. Francis South hospital (formerly the Saint Francis Heart Hospital) is ready to accelerate operations with the recent completion of a major kitchen renovation and expansion. Recently converted back to self-operated foodservices, it is expanding from 52 to 104 beds (and to 200 beds by 2010).
"We doubled the size of the kitchen and serving area to handle the additional 52 beds," Coston explains. "With this expansion we will be able to offer more menu choices: salad and soup bar, hot entrï¿´´e specials, deli choices, and Starbucks offerings."
The system's psychiatric hospital doesn't have a kitchen or retail dining operations. The some-300 staffers who work there have access to a deli operation Coston operates in a fitness center located in an adjacent building, and to Cafe Laureate, a minimal food operation located in another adjacent building housing physicians offices.
It does have a chef who prepares meals for the Eating Disorder program in which patients who have progressed to a self select status are able to choose choices in a traditional setting. The rest of the psych patient meals are brought over from the main campus.
"When the main campus converts to room service, we have made provisions in our kitchen design and meal delivery systems to offer a traditional meal service for psych, rehab, and other patients who are unable to participate in room service," Coston says.
The medical office building across from the main St. Francis Hospital will be, Coston hopes, a different animal. With 640 tenants, it presents considerable opportunities. Three Hot Stuff Foods branded concepts are slated to be put in—Hot Stuff Foods, Game Time Grille and Smash Hit Deli—along with a Starbucks branded coffee kiosk.
at a glance
The Laureate Psychiatric Clinic & Hospital and the Laureate Psychiatric Research Center followed in 1987, offering a comprehensive range of psychiatric treatment for children, adolescents and adults, as well as specialty programs for patients with chemical dependency and mood disorders. Laureate's eating disorder program is nationally recognized for its treatment of anorexia, bulimia and compulsive overeating.
The Children's Hospital at Saint Francis was established in 1995. A regional referral center that provides specialized pediatric inpatient care as well as neonatal and pediatric intensive care, it will move to a separate new 104-bed facility in early 2008.
In 2004, Saint Francis Health System and area cardiologists partnered to open the Saint Francis Heart Hospital, which will relocate and expand later this year to a separate part of the campus.