Foodservice Equipment Reports
Kitchen Design

DESIGN: Baptist Health Lexington Connects The Dots

Cafe Central, the new servery at Baptist Health Lexington, Lexington, Ky., stops first-time visitors in their tracks with its array of stations, restaurant-quality food offerings (sushi! ciabatta sandwiches! gourmet pizza!), state-of-the-art digital menu boards, cherrywood laminate cabinetry with sand-colored Zodiaq countertops and warm, cheerful lighting. Food is indeed important here. This 383-bed hospital has made a name for itself in Obstetrics (among its other specialities), so much so that locals’ nickname for Baptist is “the baby hospital.” Part of that well-earned acclaim comes from Baptist’s stellar meals for new moms.

But for visiting foodservice equipment geeks, the coolest parts of Baptist’s facility are tucked out of sight. The main attraction is a series of linked equipment systems that seamlessly and efficiently integrate the third floor kitchen with second floor servery and first-floor dock. Among them: a vertical tray return, centralized water filtration and automatic waste oil handling, to name just a few.

Stacked For Success


Baptist’s 25,000 sq.-ft., $2.6 million kitchen and servery project began in June 2010 and opened in February of this year, as part of Phase II of an ongoing campus-wide growth plan. Space constraints meant that the only spot for the new foodservice operation was a slot between the current and the future patient housing tower. In order to fit in kitchen, servery and dock, the solution was to integrate Food and Nutrition floors vertically.

Meeting the vertical foodservice challenge was a team led by Baptist Food & Nutrition Services Director Rand Cimino of Morrison Healthcare Food Service, Project Manager Robin Phillips, Compass Group USA, and Skip Alexander, AIA, of Baptist. Facility layout for the vertical challenge including the second floor servery, kitchen, warewashing, patient meal assembly and offices, was planned and designed by food facility consultants Stan Schwartz, Scott Porter and Rita Gochberg of PFDI Cleveland. Architectural drawings were developed by HDR Architecture with the project locally managed by HDR’s Duane Culp, AIA.

All Systems ‘Go’


BHL’s vertical layout opened the door for an unusual degree of integration between kitchen, servery and dock.

Food Waste Handling:
Baptist’s goal is to prevent any food waste from entering the sewer system—partly to avoid sewer issues, and mainly to be a greener operator. The system starts in the kitchen with two food grinders and a pulper. “The grinders are located in the vegetable prep and pot-wash areas,” Schwartz explains, pointing out a stainless waste collection cone set into the vegetable prep counter where a worker is tossing trimmings from a box of just-cleaned lettuce.

In the dishroom, the pulper handles food waste from trays. The pulper operates using grey water captured from the four-tank warewasher—a set-up that re-uses up to 1.7 g.p.m. of water when the pulper is running. “Also, in typical pulpers, the recirculated water smells pretty nasty after a while,” Schwartz says. “But with this, we’re constantly adding discharge water from the dishmachine, helping reduce odor.”

Pipes carry the food-waste slurry to a dock-side liquid extractor. The resulting pulp is deposited into one of two dehydrator units for a drying process. The result: a light-weight, dry homogenous biomass (no smell unless rehydrated) that will soon be used by area farmers for compost (“when we’re at the point where we’re able to keep most plastics out of the waste stream,” Cimino says. “We’re not quite there yet.”). As a side benefit for people working near the extractor and dehydrators, there’s almost no odor or flies despite the heat of Lexington in July. 

Green considerations helped drive the system’s development. “Our goals were to reduce water consumption by re-using grey water, and to divert food waste from sanitary drains, dumpsters and landfill,” Schwartz says. The system is expected to have a return on investment in two to three years based on water and sewer savings, labor reduction and reduced hauling costs.

Vertical Tray Conveyor:
Another goal was to maximize Cafe Central’s seating, which meant locating the dishroom (along with its heat and noise) upstairs. That left the problem of transporting soiled trays from the second to the third floor. The solution: a vertical conveyor.

Baptist’s multi-level tray conveyor begins with a 30-ft.-long collection area, generously sized to prevent back-ups during peak times. Signs along the drop-off area remind diners to put paper, bottles, cans and plastics into the appropriate bins. Low pegs set into the horizontal conveyor belt ensure trays are properly spaced. The belt moves trays towards the “hoistway,” where one by one they’re nudged onto the vertical riser and carried up a floor. The hoistway “belt,” which consists of moving ledges spaced 12 in. apart, allows the shaft to serve as additional tray accumulation area.

As the trays reach the dishroom level, they’re ejected onto a traditional slat-belt conveyor and trundled along to be scrapped and sorted for the warewasher by up to three workers. It takes three minutes for a tray to move from tray drop to dishroom. 

“The system can accommodate up to 15 trays a minute,” Schwartz says. “That’s fast enough to keep the tray drop-off area clear, but at a pace the dishroom staff can handle.”

Utility Distribution System (UDS) & Water-Wash Hoods: Baptist’s kitchen cookline gained future equipment flexibility, ship-shape tidiness and ease-of-installation thanks to bundling all utility lines into a pre-manufactured, UL-approved raceway. The raceway, concealed in a stainless structure between the cooklines, houses electric, gas and water lines and waste-oil piping. Outlets and hook-up points are spaced throughout its length. The hood’s fire suppression units are tucked into the stainless raceway cabinet at one end, giving the kitchen a neater appearance with fewer items to keep clean. Custom-built floor troughs located beneath the raceway allow wash hoods and any cookline equipment to drain as needed without individual point-of-use drains. 

Above the cookline, a high-efficiency, self-washing hood “captures 90% of grease particles sized 2 to 10 microns in size, much better capture than a standard baffle filter hood,” Schwartz says. “What’s more, the hood’s lower air volume reduces kitchen noise levels and puts less load on the HVAC system. 

The hood’s self-washing feature is a huge labor saver, highly appreciated by Baptist kitchen workers. “Filter cartridges get washed automatically during cooking, and the plenum is washed when fans are off,” Schwartz explains.

Waste-Oil Handling: Another feature loved by Baptist’s kitchen crew is the hands-off waste-oil handling system. Panel doors next to the kitchen cookline’s fryer battery hide a hose used to extract spent cooking oil, piping it all the way to the dock. The waste-oil removal system, which also connects to the second-floor fryer in the Cafe’s Grill station, funnels used oil into an 81-in.-tall, 350-gal. dock-side collection tank. A company pays Baptist for the spent oil, making pickups every four months.

“In the old kitchen, we’d drain oil into stockpots, wheel the pots into the elevator and down the main hallway, then dump them into a big tank on the dock,” Cimino says with a grimace “The dock was not a pretty place back then.” 

Water Filtration: PFDI streamlined the water filtration process—and saved on the expense and maintenance required by smaller point-of-use filters—by installing a central filter system in the dedicated soda room next to the servery. The arrangement supplies water for cooking via raceway faucets, treated water for sensitive equipment (reducing lime and scale) and bottle-quality water to the beverage stations, improving both hot and cold beverage taste.

“The  system can supply up to 26 g.p.m. of filtered water throughout the facility,” Schwartz says. “We added an extra 14-gal.-capacity surge tank to handle any short-term use spikes, as well as to provide back-up during the main unit’s quick back-flush every hour.”

But the filters don’t do all the work. “Kentucky has hard water, lots of scale,” Cimino adds. “We still need to delime and descale periodically, but less frequently.

Equipment Spotlight

Spec’cing efficient, versatile equipment was crucial to meeting Baptist Health’s food production requirements for Cafe Central, patient feeding and catering. Some of the kitchen’s more forward-thinking pieces include blast chillers, pressurized braising pans and induction ranges. 

Two blast chillers—one reach-in, one roll-in—are used to quickly and safely chill hot product from all types of kitchen cooking equipment. These particular models allow the units to also be used to proof dough, keeping the blast chillers busy throughout the day. Café Central can use a wider variety of proteins for its upscale salad program, thanks to the added safety of time and temperature controls from quick-chilling. The blast chiller/shock freezers have streamlined food preparation and safety, especially helpful for the catering program.

The pressurized braising pan is another kitchen time-saver. “Food cooks in about a third of the time, at lower temperatures and with a lot less shrinkage,” Cimino says. “This single unit does the work of three traditional braising pans.”

Induction cooktops are used in the servery’s Feature Station and up in the kitchen. “They’re 90% efficient in delivering energy to cooking vessels,” Schwartz says. “And as with French tops, the chef can fit more pans on the cooking surface compared to traditional burners.”

Cimino agrees, and adds, “Our cooks had to get used to their speed—water would boil in 90 seconds or less, for example. At first employees wanted to see the flames, but it didn’t take long for them to realize that the induction units were faster than even a high-BTU unit. Plus, it throws so much less heat into the kitchen, and its solid surface is easier to clean.”

Nifty Details


Cimino’s and PFDI’s attention to detail, and love of good design” (i.e. easy to use and built to last), can be found throughout the facility, including super low-flow pre-rinse faucets, automatic hand sinks, and cleaning tweaks for the beverage service area and trash collection alcove.

For the pot-washing area, “we spec’d extra low-flow pre-rinse faucets that do the job with only 0.65 g.p.m. of water—nearly a gallon less (per minute) than what the EPA calls for,” Schwartz says, grabbing one of the nozzles and pulling it down. “See how the hose never kinks? That’s because it’s hooked up with an overhead balancer unit that has 360° rotation, so the workers can use the nozzle from more angles. The hose is not going to break with this design.” 

All hand sinks feature electronic faucets for hands-free use. “It’s a simple thing, but they’ve improved hand-washing compliance since they’re so easy and fast to operate,” Cimino says.

“The electronic faucets also save close to a gallon of tempered water with every wash,” Schwartz adds. “And if there’s a power outage, hydro-generators on each unit allow the faucets to continue to work.” 

In the water filtration and beverage storeroom adjacent to the servery, a low concrete curb and a floor drain separates the bag-in-box racks and filter array from the rest of the floor. “That way, when we have syrup spills, clean-up is fast,” Cimino says.

This same storeroom also houses the pass-through coolers holding the servery’s grab-and-go offerings. Replenishing shelves can be done discreetly from behind scenes as needed, regardless of traffic out front. The display coolers’ back-loading feature also guarantees that “first product in is also first out,” Schwartz says. 

In the corridor near the foodservice administrative offices, a service alcove houses a wheeled trash dumpster. Schwartz points to a stainless-lined wash station in the corner, set off by a low curb. “Employees use that area to give the trash containers a quick wash before they return them to their spots,” Schwartz says.

Attention to detail. Everything is important at Baptist Health Lexington.

At A Glance

Baptist Health Lexington, Lexington, Ky.

No. of Beds: 383

Name of Foodservice Facility: Cafe Central

Date Opened: February 2013

No. of Seats: 262 interior; 40 patio (seasonal)

Hours of Operation: 6:30 a.m. - 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. daily

Station Sampler: Salads – specialty and made-to-order salads; Deli – sandwiches, fruits, side dishes; Pizza – cheese, pepperoni and specialty pizza by the slice; Feature – daily specials; Grill – burgers, hot dogs, grilled veggies; Comfort – fried chicken, roast beef, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese; Outtakes – grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, juices.

Check Average: $5.68

Daily Meals Served 1,208 retail; 1,200 patient and guest meals

Main Kitchen Size: 4,745 sq. ft. (includes storage, tray make-up and warewashing)

Servery Space: 3,576 sq. ft.

Foodservice Equipment Package: $2.6 million

Annual Sales: $2.5 million (estimated)

Director Food & Nutrition Services: Rand Cimino, Morrison Healthcare Food Service

Food Facility Consultant: Stan Schwartz, PFDI, Cleveland, Ohio

Project Manager: Robin Phillips, Compass Group USA

Architect: HDR Architecture, led locally by Duane Culp, AIA, Lexington, Ky.

Owner’s Representative: Skip Alexander, AIA, Director of Construction Baptist Health Lexington

Contractor: Mark Claus, Breckenridge Kitchen Equipment, Huron, Ohio

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