Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

OCT 2018

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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OCTOBER 2018 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • 37 On-site hair salons, bike repair shops, dry cleaners and fitness centers? Check. Paid time off for volunteering? Check. Dog parks and pet insurance? Check. Reimbursement for adoption fees, daycare costs and embryo-freezing services? Check, check and check. Workplaces across the country offer all of these and many more to sweeten the pot, particularly in competitive, Millennial-driven markets. It's become a what-else-can-you- do-for-me workaday world, and within that realm, if old-school benefits no longer suffice, neither do old-school approaches to corporate dining. The traditional company cafeteria, where cheap or free food and on-site conve- nience were once enough, now gives way to next-gen initiatives designed to satisfy an increasingly diverse, flexible, engaged and food-savvy workforce. A fundamental change in the segment has been its evolution from what was typi- cally a highly subsidized amenity to what today is a P&L-driven, compete-with-the- street environment, according to Victoria Vega, vice president of the Corporate Culinary Group at Unidine Corporation, a Boston-based food and dining services management firm. The 30-year industry veteran, who is also a past president of the Society for Hospitality and Foodservice Management, says her message to her teams today is: "In workplace hospitality, while you may consider everyone in your office building to be a captive population, you always need to captivate them." And for workplace hospitality operators today, captivating custom- ers means staying on top of significant changes on both the workplace and hospitality sides of the equation. Real Estate Shri s Many workplaces continue to shrink. Work-from-home, virtual offices and transient workforce trends, combined with real-estate cost pressures, mergers and acquisitions, have many companies downsizing their footprints. The upshot: There's often less space devoted to ame- nities such as traditional on-site dining. "You no longer see the bowling alley-sized cafeterias that you did 15 years ago," Vega notes. "They're simply not necessary in part because of how people work today. They'd never be filled. And from a client or owner perspective, depending where your building is located, the cost of that real estate also drives footprints." Sam Souccar, senior vice president of creative services at New York-based hospitality company Restaurant Associ- ates (RA), also sees a downward trend in corporate square footage overall and in space devoted to foodservice. With RA's corporate dining clients concentrated in major urban centers, the high cost of real estate gets most of the credit. "It really starts with real estate and associated costs," Souccar says. "Many clients are looking at both build-out and operating costs and, in urban locations, are allotting significantly less space for corporate dining. It may not be the case in smaller or more suburban areas where real estate costs aren't such an issue, but the biggest trend we're seeing is toward small-footprint solutions." Souccar points out that in many cases, developers contribute to a shift toward allocating less space to din- ing by adding restaurants to their mix. "They see value in food to attract both tenants and the public to their buildings and, as such, are subsidizing rents for food outlets," he says. "A potential office tenant may have its own foodservice, but if the landlord can say, 'Hey, listen, there's an artisanal coffee shop and a Mediterranean fast-casual and a great pizza place in the building,' that build- ing becomes a lot more attractive." Having restaurant choices right in the building and/or in the surrounding neighborhood allows some companies to nurture distinctly modern, smaller-scale takes on foodservice, as well as to promote a culture of supporting local businesses. When cloud computing company Salesforce reimagined its corporate head- quarters in San Francisco, for instance, it created an environment in which food plays a role but in a way that's in tune with how more employees today want to work — in flexible, comfortable, design- forward environments that foster engage- ment, creativity and collaboration. Rather than incorporate trendy dining options, Salesforce bucks that widely hailed tech-company strategy and encourages employees to purchase meals off campus, channeling sales to local res- taurants and retailers. Instead of dining halls, its new offices include flex spaces where employees can relax, recharge and collaborate with easy access to a variety of snacks and beverages. "We design our office to feel like home, with residential fits and finishes. As part of our design philosophy, the focal point of our employee floors are expansive kitchen spaces known as social lounges," explains Benny Ebert-Zavos, manager of real estate communications at Salesforce. "These areas are flexible spaces that feature a wide range of seating options where employees can meet with coworkers, grab a snack, live-stream Ask any corporate executive to name big, lose-sleep-over issues, and it's likely that finding and retaining quality employees loom near the top of the list. Over the past couple of decades, companies have addressed those two perennial challenges in part with benefits and perks that make old-school insurance and retirement packages seem downright fuddy-duddy in comparison. Top left: Noble Fork is a Slow Food-inspired sustain- able diner option touting "good, clean and fair ingredients." It's part of Microsoft's new Café 25, a multiconcept, zero-waste facility. Photo courtesy of Dining at Microsoft Bottom left: Corporate cafeterias have given way at many companies to design-forward, contemporary food halls. Photo courtesy of Restaurant Associates

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