Giving the term ‘hospital food’ a whole new meaning
Craving a juicy hamburger? Can’t live another second without a cup of gourmet coffee?
Don’t let a minor inconvenience like being in the hospital get in your way.
More and more Dallas-Fort Worth hospitals are resembling shopping-mall food courts, with retail kiosks and counters offering everything from Subway sandwiches and McDonald’s fries to Starbucks coffee.
The trend “has a lot to do with customer satisfaction and our enduring love of comfort food,” said Johnny Sue Reynolds, a professor at the University of North Texas School of Merchandising and Hospitality Management. “When in times of stress, it feels good to go get a McDonald’s hamburger or something else familar.”
For the hospitals, restaurants and food kiosks can help ease budget pressures while pleasing patients, visitors and employees alike.
At the Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas kiosk, which sells Starbucks coffee, java sales have been so strong that operator Blue Mesa Coffee Co., a division of Dallas-based Mesa SW Restaurants, has proposals out to operate similar kiosks at four other North Texas hospitals.
“We are trying to be on the forefront of the trend, and are targeting every major hospital that doesn’t have existing contracts for their food services with a third-party provider,” said Jim Baron, a co-owner with his wife Liz Baron of Mesa SW.
“There’s typically a fairly lengthy approval process,” Baron added. “These deals tend to take a long time to pull off.”
Since opening the Presbyterian kiosk in October 2002, Blue Mesa has gained space in the front lobby of the hospital’s main building at a reduced rent, with utilities provided. Jim Baron said it’s a good marketing opportunity that grosses about $200,000 a year.
The kiosk, which also serves light breakfasts and lunches, is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. five days a week and is staffed by three of Mesa’s nearly 400 employees.
Jeff Light, administrative director of guest and support services at Presbyterian, said the fact that Blue Mesa supplies everything, including trained employees, ma