Foodservice Equipment Reports

Clever Solutions

When Andrew DeLage, LEED AP, President of Tempe, Ariz.-based A2O Foodservice Design & Consulting Inc., and his team stepped up to design the remodel of the foodservice facilities at Banner Estrella Medical Center, Phoenix, their assignment first appeared straightforward.

Hospital administration asked that they build out the retail dining café and a main kitchen supporting a patient room-service program to accommodate a newly built, 178-bed tower and the increase in patients, staff and visitors it would bring. With a passion for green building, DeLage’s other task was to present hospital leaders with ideas to improve labor efficiency and increase energy and water savings while highlighting a reasonable return on investment.

“The project goals were very simple,” DeLage recalls. But once they started work on the project in 2011, they encountered a slew of challenges. “Unfortunately, the previous foodservice provider sold and delivered the original facility as a design/supply ‘package deal’ that fell far short of meeting the long-term goals for the owner.”

Banner Estrella opened with 214 beds in 2005, and the original designers had left space to build out the facilities. However, the kitchen had a less-than-ideal layout, and much of the equipment, from the dishmachine to the exhaust hoods, proved inefficient.

Given a design and equipment budget of $900,000, DeLage pulled from his more than 34 years of consulting experience to meet the project goals. He worked closely with the architectural team at SmithGroup JJR, Phoenix, and Jeff Gilmore, who was the hospital’s director of culinary and nutrition services throughout the project. Gilmore recently moved to Blount Memorial Hospital in Maryville, Tenn., where he serves as Director of Food and Nutrition Services.

Banner Estrella leaders opened the remodeled facilities in January 2015.

Winning Café
Along with the architectural team, DeLage and his crew substantially remodeled the 2,100-sq.-ft. servery, named Banner Estrella Café, situated off of the existing building’s first-floor main corridor and almost directly above the main kitchen, which is located in the basement.

The main kitchen, measuring 10,000 sq. ft., now supports the hospital’s room-service program, and foodservice production staff uses the kitchen to prepare bulk ingredients, including soups and sauces, and hotel-pan-sized hot entrees to serve in the café. The kitchen also backs up a doctors’ lounge in the new bed tower. The lounge features BSI LLC serving counters for displaying hot and cold dishes; a Follett ice-transport system; a small kitchenette with a three-compartment sink, refrigeration and hot-holding cabinets; and an outdoor Alfresco grill, which cooks use to barbecue.

To prepare for an estimated 200-300 more guests per day from the new tower, the designers relocated, expanded or enhanced the café’s existing stations, which were Desserts, Grill, Hot Entrée, Pizza, Action, Beverages, Grab and Go, Soup and Salad Bar and Coffee. The designers added a circular, centrally located island station, which includes the International Grill, Cooking in Action station and the Salad Bar.

The team’s most clever improvement in the servery, DeLage says, was replacing relatively new exhaust hoods with ultra-efficient hoods from Spring Air Systems. It actually was the third time the foodservice department leaders replaced the hoods.

“We tried to keep the existing hoods in the project, but in the end, it was far too costly in terms of construction and operating costs,” he says. He explains that if they had kept the existing hoods and added more hoods, they would’ve had to run ductwork four stories to the roof. Replacing the existing hoods allowed them to add even more hoods to existing exhaust fans; they didn’t have to change the ductwork.

DeLage didn’t specify hoods with demand-control ventilation because the return on investment would have been too long for a servery that’s only open a limited number of hours each day. Employees can, however, switch on the hoods manually, or the hoods can be set to come on automatically after sensing a certain temperature. Six hoods run on four separate exhaust fans, making independent control practical; not all of the hoods run all of the time. Prior to remodeling, employees at the Deli station— now combined with the Soup Bar—could only serve cold sandwiches. DeLage added a carving station—letting staff slice hot meats to order for sandwiches—as well as an Electrolux high-speed panini grill with microwave technology.

“Staff used to offer a particular sandwich of the day and then pre-assembled the sandwiches because it would take too long to prepare them to order,” he says. “Now customers can pick their sandwich ingredients, and staff assemble and heat them in 90 seconds or less.”

In addition to a new Pizza and Pasta platform along one wall—featuring a Wood Stone hearth oven—the designers created a large, circular, centrally located island station that includes the International Grill, Cooking in Action station and Salad Bar. The prior salad bar had been a portable, double-sided unit. As part of the new island station, the Salad Bar now is stocked with twice as many fresh ingredients.

The International Grill comes equipped with two Wood Stone plancha griddles on which cooks prepare a rotating menu of ethnic fare, including build-your-own stir-fries with proteins, vegetables and sauces. Gilmore says the foodservice staff specifically requested a griddle that cooks can easily and quickly wipe down to eliminate taste carryover between each customer’s dishes.

The Wood Stone hearth oven at the Pizza and Pasta station serves as a focal point in the servery. “Even though it’s on the opposite side of the entrance, the flame really catches your eye and draws you in,” DeLage says.

Employees originally cooked pizza using an impinger oven, and it worked well, Gilmore adds, but the hearth oven gives staff the opportunity to provide a higher volume of a wider variety of menu items, from pizza to pasta bakes, with the draw of the flames.

Overall, Gilmore was especially pleased with the Grab-and-Go area. Foods are stored cold in glass-door refrigeration units, but the backs of the refrigeration units open into a big walk-in cooler from Thermalrite. With this design, staff can store foods cold and restock the shelves from the back without disrupting customer access in the front.

The Coffee kiosk, called the Banner Bean, moved from the back of the dining room to the café entrance just off of the building’s main corridor for better access and visibility. Here, guests order Starbucks premium coffees, espressos, teas and frozen blended beverages.

Kitchen Remix
To prepare the main kitchen for the additional patients and café guests, the designers added extra storage for dry goods and refrigerated and frozen foods and more room for meal-tray delivery carts. “We didn’t need to extend the cooking area, with café support on one side and patient services on the other, because it was already equipped to support additional patients and guests in the café,” Gilmore says, adding that they did purchase a combi oven in the middle of the project to speed up patient-meal preparation.

Designers increased cold storage by adding a walk-in cooler to space allocated by the original builders and converted an existing walk-in cooler into a freezer, placing it side by side with an existing freezer. Even though there was space for these additions, the designers faced some challenges with the drains. “We actually made the last cooler box taller than the rest so there was enough pitch for the condensate drain to go all the way to the only floor drain in the area,” DeLage says.

In the cold-prep area, the design team added a Power Soak produce wash system, which DeLage says he specifies on nearly every project. The unit thoroughly washes and sanitizes fruits and vegetables, removing soil and harmful contaminates and delivering greater food safety, all while increasing shelf life.

A2O also specified an American Panel roll-in blast chiller in the cold-prep area. “Blast chillers are an extremely versatile piece of equipment that every kitchen should have; unfortunately, they’re often underused,” DeLage notes. “The equipment helps operators adhere to HACCP guidelines and health-department regulations and can pre-chill plates for the salad bar or bring food and beverages to serving temperature.” For example, Gilmore says, staff has used the unit to quickly cool down cooked chicken for the salad bar.

Also of note, the foodservice department leaders requested quieter, plastic, meal-tray delivery carts from Cambro and switched to the company’s non-skid trays, eliminating the need for disposable mats. Switching trays saved the facility thousands of dollars in the first year, Gilmore says.

Lean Dishmachine
Designers made sweeping improvements to the main kitchen’s dishroom. They moved it from the back of the kitchen to near the front entrance of the kitchen in a space where foodservice staff used to have offices; offices were moved to the new tower. With the new layout, employees push soiled carts into the dishroom immediately after entering the kitchen. Plus, clean dishes end up closer to their point of use. The design team turned the original dishroom in the back into extra dry-storage space.

Focused on energy- and water-saving options, DeLage replaced the existing rack-conveyor dishmachine with a Hobart flight-type unit. He expects the new dishmachine will save the foodservice department the cost of more than 500,000 gal./yr. compared with the previous machine.

“Despite the increased demand from the additional beds, the new warewasher uses less energy and water and fewer chemicals and requires no more full-time employees than its smaller predecessor,” he says. “The return on investment for this option is usually one to two years and, after that, there’s a substantial reduction in operating cost year after year.”

By specifying leading-edge equipment and designing a user-friendly kitchen layout, the design team has better equipped Banner Estrella Medical Center to serve more patients, staff and visitors. And it performed the entire remodeling job without ever shutting down the foodservice facilities.

“I’m proud to say that since starting the company 15 years ago, we’ve never had to close a kitchen even for one day or rent a temporary facility,” says DeLage. During the project, hospital leaders were so happy with the progress and efficiencies, they invited the team to design a kitchen at sister hospital Banner Gateway Medical Center in Gilbert, Ariz.


Facilities: Main kitchen and Banner Estrella Café
Opened: January 2015
No. of Beds: 392
No. of Seats: 130
Hours of Operation: Room service: 6:30 a.m.-7 p.m.; Café: 6:30 a.m.- 1:30 a.m.
Café Stations: Soup Bar and Deli, Salad Bar and International Grill, Pasta and Pizza, Hot Entrée, Grill, Cooking in Action, Desserts, Grab and Go, Beverages, Coffee
Foodservice Design/Equipment Budget: $900,000
Director of Culinary and Nutrition Services: Jennifer Page-Wood, Banner Estrella Medical Center, Phoenix
Retail Culinary Manager: Daniel Luker, Banner Estrella Medical Center, Phoenix
Project Managers: Mark Barkenbush, Senior Project Executive; Randy Bierbaum, Project Executive; and Aaron Zeligman, Project Manager; Banner Health, Phoenix
Foodservice Design Consultant: Andrew DeLage, LEED AP, President, A2O Foodservice Design & Consulting Inc., Tempe, Ariz.
Architects: SmithGroup JJR, Phoenix
Equipment Supplier/Installer: Arizona Restaurant Supply Inc., Marana, Ariz.

Wood Stone hearth oven, plancha griddles
Alto-Shaam waterless double hot food wells, drop-in soup wells
Electrolux high-speed panini grill
Winston CVAP cook-hold cabinets, drawer warmers
Structural Concepts dual-temp display case, air-curtain display refrig.
Perlick undercounter refrig. (existing)
Vulcan/ITW FEG fryers (existing), rapid-recovery griddle
Lang/Middleby griddle (existing)
Carter-Hoffmann/Middleby fried-food warmers
MagiKitch’n/Middleby charbroiler
Lincoln/Manitowoc ventless conveyor oven
Continental refrigs., freezers, prep-top refrig., worktop freezer
Hatco heated display (existing), drop-in heated shelves
BSI LLC drop-in refrig. cold pans
Low Temp quick-switch drop-in hot/cold pans, multi-temp food wells
Vollrath induction hot plate
Nor-Lake/Standex roll-in refrig.
Halton air-screen system
Manitowoc ice maker, bin (existing)
Delfield/Manitowoc drop-in refrig. display, refrig. cold pans
Taylor/Carrier soft-serve machine (existing)
Vitamix blenders
Espresso machine (existing)
Eagle Group shelving
New Age racks
Anthony/Dover gravity-feed cooler shelving
Thermalrite walk-in cooler
Berner air curtains

Throughout Servery
BSI LLC counters, food shields
Spring Air Systems hoods

Main Kitchen’s Dishroom, Storage, Cold-Prep Area
American Panel roll-in blast chiller, thaw cabinet
Power Soak/Unified Brands produce wash system, pot-scrubber sink, silverware power-washer sink
Thermalrite walk-in coolers, freezers
Berner air curtains
New Age racks
Hobart/ITW FEG flight-type dishmachine w/heat reclaim
Cambro hot-food system, meal-tray carts, shelving

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