Memorial Hospital Central’s Atrium Café re-opened this week with healthy new food options, including a new salad bar, a new taco bar, a gourmet sandwich station and fresh, hot meals for employees and visitors who need to grab a meal quickly.
The re-opening comes after a yeoman effort by the hospital’s Food and Nutrition Services and Design and Construction teams during a six-month, $2.4 million construction project to install a new grease trap and remodel the café with new flooring, fresh paint and modern amenities.
“We’re thrilled to offer our patients, visitors and employees even more healthy new food options and convenience in a newly remodeled space,’’ said Kristin Monnier, director of Nutrition and Food Services for Memorial Hospital. “I am so proud of our employees and the resilience they showed during the construction period.’’
For the past six weeks, patient meals were served out of large, semi-trailers. Sometimes, the temperature inside the trailers reached 120 degrees.
“We served 26,000 meals out of those semi-trailers. There were days when they were working with the thunder and lighting and hail pounding, and they never missed a beat. There was not a single meal that wasn’t delivered to patients, and we averaged getting them there in 37 minutes,’’ Monnier said.
The team received the “Teams We Treasure’’ award, a UCHealth recognition program to honor teams that go above and beyond in the workplace, for overcoming the challenges posed by construction.
“All of this was done seamlessly with minimal disruption to patients and customers. It really took a team effort to plan, coordinate, and make the changes and I couldn’t be more proud of this team and what they accomplished during this challenging situation,’’ Monnier said.
During a week of celebrating the Café reopening, Memorial treated employees to prizes, brought in a Mariachi band and gave staff a chance to swing at a piñata.
One of the biggest changes is to the salad bar. Healthy foods like quinoa and kale will be offered regularly, along with more whole grains. The new salad bar is larger to accommodate a wider variety of choices.
A new station featuring Mexican-style food that is not unlike Chipotle and Qdoba will allow employees to make fresh tacos, burritos or nachos. A sandwich bar featuring gourmet lunch meats, specialty breads, vegetables and condiments is also new to the café.
To accommodate staff who have limited time to grab a meal, Sodexo, the company that provides food and nutrition services at Memorial, has added hot to-go meals. Last week, options included meatloaf with two sides, vegetarian lasagna and chicken pot pie.
“We’ve re-designed our offerings with health and convenience for staff and visitors in mind,’’ Monnier said. “We listened to customers say that they needed to get food fast and designed our new café to accommodate that need.’’
Monnier said food will be prepared under Sodexo’s Mindful program, which offers calorie, sodium and fiber guidelines for meals.
Along with the new grease trap, the kitchen has new equipment: a grill, two refrigerators and a steam table.
Construction on the grease trap required excavation inside and outside the hospital as new pipes that connect the kitchen to the grease trap – a giant box that sits underground on the west side of the hospital – were installed.
“This project has been on the books for 15 years, and we have finally been able to complete it,’’ said Greg Gauna, director of Design and Construction at Memorial. “This was a challenging project.’’
Jennifer Toll, a senior project manager who has been at Memorial for about a year, said: “This was my first big project here at Memorial and I’m thankful for the support from everyone at Design and Construction and Bryan Construction who helped get it done.
“There were a lot of big hurdles to clear, including shutting down the kitchen and opening the mobile kitchens, but we did it. It’s gratifying to know that Memorial has been improved for visitors, guests, and staff.’’