October 31, 2008

Café debuts new options, upgrades

Featured Image

Nutrition Services’ Leigh Heath, left, and Vanessa Robinson serve chocolate-dipped treats at the grand opening of the Courtyard Cafe’s new servery. (photo by Joe Howell)

Café debuts new options, upgrades

After more than three months of construction, the renovated servery in the Courtyard Café opened last Saturday, and a grand opening celebration was held Monday during lunch hours.

The renovations focused on improving traffic flow and adding more food options.

“Everything was right on time,” said Janet Walker, retail director. “We didn't gain any space, but we made the space more efficient.”

“The new look is what is most amazing,” said Vanessa Robinson, administrator of food and nutrition services. “There is more lighting. It's a cheerier place. We hope it will be a better experience for everyone who comes through.”

Staff visiting the updated servery for the first time had positive reactions.

“It's really open and clean and fresh,” said Jackie Sullivan, R.N.

“The openness really draws you in,” said Roger Parrish, R.R.T. “It was a hassle coming through here before, but because of the design, they can get twice as many people through here now.”

Robinson said that prices have not changed following the renovation, “but there are new items that are priced appropriately and competitively.”

Hours will also remain the same: 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Robinson said diners can look forward to additional improvements down the road, including a carving station and other “action” stations where food is made in front of customers.

A new world station will offer Italian, Mexican and Asian cuisines on a rotating basis, with other cuisines in development.

Overnight staff can also look forward to more options and variety.

Ed Chan, R.D., nutrition services director, said staff are also trying some environmentally friendly initiatives, including plastic bottle recycling and offering cling wrap for carry-out plates instead of plastic domes.

The Café is also on the list to eventually donate used cooking oil for recycling into biodiesel at Vanderbilt.

With servery renovations complete, focus will shift to enhancing the dining room. It will be closed for a month for the installation of new tables and chairs, flooring and paint. The decor will match recently refurbished hallways in The Vanderbilt Clinic. During the renovation, diners can eat in heated tents in the courtyard.

Much of the present renovations were based on feedback received from surveys, and Nutrition Services is now seeking opinions on the new servery and other customer preferences.

The Customer Close-Up survey will be offered online Nov. 3-14, and all participants receive a free 16-oz. fountain drink.

“We welcome candid feedback,” Robinson said. “We use the information to address food choices and anything else that is feasible. It's our opportunity to be a better food service operation.”