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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Page 43 of 99

42 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • OCTOBER 2018 Off-Site Trends Come On-Site Against a backdrop of smaller footprints, shifting workforce habits and tech-enabled conveniences, corporate dining operators also bring significantly greater commer- cial panache to their on-site operations and menus. Competing with the street demands it, and an increasingly food-savvy customer base will accept no less. "In the past, if you did a stir-fry station, you'd maybe have vegetables, chicken or beef and a teriyaki sauce. Now, it's a whole variety of sauces and flavorings and specialty ingredients. And it likely won't be generic; it might be a Vietnam- ese pho bowl or a Korean hotpot with kimchee. The palate of our guests has really changed." Their appetite for food experiences has grown as well. To that end, corporate dining facilities have shed old-school caf- eteria formats for food-hall, marche-style operations with defined concepts, action stations out front and exhibition kitchens. At Restaurant Associates' op- erations, Souccar says three key menu trends stand out: continued demand for high-quality salad and hot food bars, which contribute 35 percent to 40 percent of corporate dining sales; the ability to customize; and authentic ethnic/globally inspired foods, which he says have become a given. Customization, however, is beginning to shift, Souccar adds. "The action station where you're able to fully customize your own dish is winding down. What's taking its place is the idea of a specialized, set menu, like you'd see at Sweetgreen or Dig Inn. You're still able to customize to a degree, as the dishes are mostly pre- pared to order, but the menu is smaller and more curated. We're moving many of our stations from 'you tell me what you want' to 'let me suggest to you what you might want, and then you can customize it a bit.'" If it all sounds like more of a res- taurant model than a cafeteria model, that's by design. Restaurants, in fact, are getting stronger play in corporate dining today, bringing that off-site experience right into the workplace. "We partner with local restaurants and food trucks, bringing them in once or twice a week," Souccar says. "It helps to add variety and interest, particularly in smaller locations where we don't have extensive kitchen facilities. They do the cooking in the restaurant or commissary and bring the food. It's a win-win. The customer is getting that restaurant or truck experience, but it's coming to them, and it's less expensive than if they'd gone out for it. Plus, it's a great way for our clients to do community outreach." Microsoft, too, taps local chefs and restaurants, including in its cafes permanent and pop-up restaurant sta- tions by popular Seattle-area operators. Full-service restaurant concepts, again developed in partnership with award- winning local operators, were also recently added to the mix. "Over the past 10 years or so, there's been a big shift in corporate din- ing," Freeman says. "It's not necessarily a company cafe anymore — it's more of a restaurant. We've embraced that, developing our own restaurant-style concepts and showcasing local favor- ites. From a design standpoint, I think this idea of restaurants will be much more prevalent in the future. Custom- ers resonate with that. They see a great chef out in the community and want access to that experience here, too." Experience, Souccar adds, is in- creasingly the operative word when it comes to dining of any kind, corporate or commercial. "The value proposition is changing," he says. "Even as recent as five years ago, it was always about price, about what you can get for five or six bucks. Now, the value proposition is ab- solutely more about the experience. If I'm going to pay $12, what is the value that I'm getting? People are willing to spend more, especially Millennials and younger customers, but for a return of experience and quality. That has to be our mission. We have to be constantly listening to our customers, innovating and changing to deliver on that." FE&S Above: At Café 25, Microsoft partnered with Onda Origins, a local specialty coffee company that uses blockchain technology to trace coffee from origin to cup and virtual reality to share the experience. Left: Canned beverages, available elsewhere on cam- pus, were eliminated at zero-waste Café 25, where more sustainable beverage choices include house- infused waters. Photos courtesy of Dining at Microsoft WORKPLACE HOSPITALITY A New Value Proposition

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