Published on : January 13, 2011

LOS ANGELES MEDICAL CENTER CAFETERIA GETS REJUVENATED

LOS ANGELES MEDICAL CENTER CAFETERIA GETS REJUVENATED

Kaiser Permanente's Los Angeles Medical Center campus, which spans five city blocks along Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, recently underwent a dramatic facelift, with the hospital's buildings gaining a unified appearance and the food servery in the main section of the hospital getting a dramatic recasting in a more prominent location.

The Rejuvenate Café, completed in October 2009, was designed to  accommodate contemporary service models, customer needs, and alignment with the long-running Thrive campaign, which promotes health and wellness, sustainability and freshness, while providing a vision to the hospital staff and outside customer base which exemplifies great food and great environmental design.

At approximately 1,800-square-feet, including a featured stretch of terrace along Sunset Boulevard and adjacent to the main hospital, the 400-seat café offers a dramatic first impression, which is a big change from the old usage of this space pre-renovation: a medical records storage area.

Webb Design, in collaboration with Taylor Architects, created a food service facility, and interior design plans and specifications for the development of this project. Initially, the project began with a programming phase, which incorporated the needs of the hospital operationally and programmatically, while conforming to project budget allocations, construction deliverables and sustainability requirements.

It was important for the team to convey a design concept which delivered accurate representations of space and equipment allocation, interior design motifs, and operational requirements. Project phasing and construction scheduling were a main focal point, as was plan approval protocol. Webb Design interviewed project stakeholders and presented concepts developed by the efforts of the team.

Costel Coca, a project designer with Webb Design, was instrumental in developing the new servery. He said the facility is transforming healthcare retail food service to an exciting, hospitality-driven environment that consistently earns outstanding feedback and grades from customers.

“The modern exhibition food theater, which we have created in the new Café Rejuvenate, enables people to not only order customized and freshly-prepared cuisine instead of having to just order food from a counter, but in most cases to also see their food being prepared,” said Coca. “The mainstream example of convenient food service has thus reached a new level, and it also serves as the design foundation for Kaiser’s "Thrive" service model.”

SERVERY HIGHLIGHTS: INVITING, FLEXIBLE AND HEALTHY

In addition to the main servery, Webb Design studied adjacent spaces for the purpose of providing a thorough study of all areas and establishing responsible design criteria for future design and construction development.

The hospital has more than 5,000 employees, 700 doctors, and thousands of patients. The primary goal for the Rejuvenate Café was to create a space that effectively serves any and all of these people.

As a high-traffic location, the Café also needed to present an inviting-yet-open feeling while being easy to clean. Slip-resistant floors make the area safe and an open space design allows for easy reaching and cleaning of equipment, according to Margaret Aslanian, department administrator of food and nutrition services at Kaiser Permanente's Los Angeles Medical Center.

The design also offers versatility, allowing flexible change in food service programming as menu trends evolve. This was important, as the Thrive brand also invites community participation through professional cooking demonstrations and menu displays.

Knowing the site would emphasize fresh food choices and a steady flow of traffic, Aslanian said it was important that work flow was addressed in the servery design, through features like making sure work stations had the necessary food preparation equipment in close proximity, that floor space would accommodate rolling push carts and multiple workers, and that there was enough counter space, dry and cold storage, for daily food preparation demands.

Among the sustainability concerns for the café was a desire to purchase items from local vendors, in order to lessen energy consumption and emissions, plus an ability to recycle plastics, paper, and even cooking oil, according to Aslanian. Webb Design supported and promoted steps to ensure these sustainable practices by identifying local suppliers and assisting the team with project approvals through the construction process.

In support of Kaiser Permanente’s sustainability philosophy, Webb Design also implemented many energy, labor and ergonomic strategies, giving the hospital financial returns to last for a life time.

Among the green improvements:

  • The dishwasher is Energy Star rated, which will yield a significant energy savings through less water usage than the previous ware washing equipment.
  • The exhaust system leverages technology that reduces exhaust air requirements by 30 percent versus conventional hoods.
  • The kitchen now has high-efficiency fryers with self cleaning burners to reduce fuel consumption by 37 percent.
  • The sink features low-flow pre-rinse spray valves, with 0.64 gpm versus previously-mandated 1.6 gpm, to reduce water consumption by 40 percent.

While the hospital is thrilled that food sales business at the hospital increased by nearly 40 percent, it is even more pleased with the finished result and the response the new servery has received from hospital visitors.

"This new space is very inviting, it works well with the upgraded design and flow of the hospital campus, and has become the popular meeting spot at the hospital," said Aslanian. “The Rejuvenate Café has really become an important part of the hospital campus and our community.”

About the Author:

As a 31-year industry veteran, Jim Webb has long enjoyed the opportunity to share his unique take on the commercial foodservice market as a frequent featured speaker at industry events. He is founder and principal of Webb Design, a food service design and consulting firm based in Tustin, CA. For more than 21 years, his firm has provided front and back of the house design to the foodservice industry while winning multiple design industry awards, including four National Design Awards and an International Interior Design Association award in 2009.