Coffee shops are generating buzz right now and it goes beyond the jolt provided by their caffeinated drinks. As consumers’ love for these popular destinations continues to grow, the excitement is also brewing in non-commercial foodservice operations.
Soin Medical Center in Beavercreek, Ohio, is capitalizing on the coffee shop buzz with a renovation of its onsite café named Creek Coffee Company. Soin’s Foodservice Director Tina Banning and Executive Chef Jennifer Ball recently talked to General Mills Foodservice about efforts to update the space and revamp the menu in order to draw in more staff and hospital visitors.
The changes include updating the café with new signage and décor, including new leather furniture, electronic charging stations and music.
“By creating more of a Starbucks ‘look and feel,’ we wanted to make the space more inviting and welcoming so guests are more likely to stay a while,” said Banning. “If you get people to stay longer, they will buy more.”
Another important change was swapping out the coffee they were serving to offer a local brand that customers know and love. They also downgraded the coffee served in the main cafeteria in attempt to drive traffic to the coffee shop location.
Ball worked to broaden the coffee shop’s menu with a wide selection of items for morning customers as well as guests who pop in later in the day for quick bite or snack to eat on-the-go. This includes stocking the bakery case with a variety of muffins, scones and cinnamon rolls from the Pillsbury family of high-quality bakery items—all baked fresh onsite.
“We bake as much as can throughout the day, recognizing that the aroma of cinnamon rolls or cookies can be very enticing and hard to resist,” said Ball.
With the addition of a new oven, she plans to add more snack and lunch options to the mix such as pretzels and sandwiches. There are also a number of gluten-free options to meet growing demand.
In summary, some of the steps taken by Soin that may inspire you in your operation:
- Consider a switch to premium coffee or a local, recognized brand.
- Use signage such as a chalkboard, letterboard or sidewalk sign to promote menu items “baked fresh here,” your branded coffee, specialty items, etc.
- Take a fresh look at your décor and furniture. Can you make it more comfortable?
- Add charging stations and areas for people to sit and work.
- Bake items onsite to create an aroma that will help to draw people in.
- Expand your hours to better accommodate hospital staff and/or visitors. At Soin, the coffee shop is located in close proximity to the Emergency Room so they expanded their hours so visitors coming to the hospital into the afternoon would have an option to get something to eat and drink.
Healthcare foodservice professionals who are interested in brewing up some coffee shop buzz in their own operations can find a number of helpful resources, including recipes for fresh baked goods, a step-by-step guide to creating coffee-shop appeal and downloadable marketing assets (posters, table tents, window clings).