Many successful companies attract and keep important resources like employees by offering desirable food and beverage amenities. This improves moral, satisfies daily nutritional needs and offers economic and efficient time and money alternatives for employees who commonly bring food for lunch or dine off-site. Unfortunately, experienced project design professionals need to be incorporated early in the planning stage of a project to avoid common pitfalls associated when good intensions result in criteria or plans that cross over the food serving threshold into the FDA, USDA, health department regulated restaurant business.
Every company needs to have experienced design professionals explain the choices early in the programming process so the complete alternative implications for full food preparation service verses preparation and distribution are understood. This evaluation should include first and continued operating costs, inspections, licensing, operator certifications and training, preparation equipment, building and kitchen health department code constraints, raw material delivery, storage and segregation, odors and ventilation, life safety fire separations, refrigeration and freezing, rodent and insect control, trash containment and disposal, meal quantity capability, operator and company liabilities and final total or supplemented cost of delivered foods and beverages.
Below is a great list of professional designer guidelines and questions to make the right decision:
- How many people or meals will be served over what period of time in what locations? (i.e. lunch three (3) shifts fifty people per shift seven days per week from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM.)
- Do you need to prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinners for around the clock operation?
- What is the target daily finished cost per meal?
- Will on-site eating options improve employee relationships?
- Are employees provided with refrigerated storage and/or micro-wave preparation areas for carry-in meals or snacks?
- Is the dining area open for limited hours or shifts or over selective periods of time for each targeted meal delivery type?
- How many meal choices need to be offered to the targeted group?
- Are different levels of dining options desirable?
- Will balanced and nutritional meals improve health of employees?
- Can on-site meetings and conferences benefit from having food and beverage on-site?
- Key food operation guidelines include preparation of raw meats, fish, poultry or gluten-free options.
- Cooking limitations to re-heating or warming versus cooking;
- Full food service meal preparation brings special hoods and exhausts, grease-trap installation and maintenance operation, special waste management, flammable oils and ingredient management, and specialized food operator licensing and inspections.
- Can food service area improve efficiency for lost time associated with meal preparation and associated cueing for microwaves or locker areas?
- Can prepared good nutritional meals reduce time to and from off-site lunch areas?
- Are prepared meals on-site of interest to current or future employees and viewed as a benefit?
- Experience shows food service can be helpful at a minimum of 100 served meals per day, 5 days per week.
- Full service food preparation is a minimum initial investment of $250,000 per year and an additional $250,000 per year to operate usually for a minimum of over 2,000 meals per week.