Photo courtesy of Children’s Mercy Kansas City
KC Cafe at Children’s Mercy Kansas City underwent a complete renovation to modernize the space and transform it from a child-centric space to a child-friendly space.
The cafe’s customers are mostly hospital workers and parents of young patients, so the updates better reflect the clientele and provide respite for tired workers and worried family members. However, there is still a lot to do to keep children happy.
The previous design was over 20 years old and had a restaurant theme, with lots of black and white, stainless steel, dark walls and a jukebox. The space was starting to look tired and lacked modernity,” says Scott Gage, Vice President of Support Services at Children’s Mercy.
Half walls and partitions have fallen in, opening up the space and letting in natural light. Previously, customers entered through a kind of tunnel and only saw the aid stations in front of them. Now they have a view of the entire cafe and seating area as soon as they step inside.
It also has a much more logical flow, says Gage, more like a food hall, with four servers clustered around a central area that contains a take-out market, cafe and two Sally the Robot salad vending machines.
Complaints about the old space included that it was too stimulating, says Gage, “so everything was scaled back.” The terrazzo flooring is white and gray with clusters of mixed colors. It also dictates the flow – white floors designate the dining areas and gray the seating.
The drop ceiling has been removed so guests can now see the warm wooden ceiling partitions, and the walls are painted in light colors that reflect natural light. “It feels a lot more open, modern and airy now,” Gage says.
The seating areas have been made much friendlier, with tables and chairs that are no longer bolted to the floor, cabin seating, and several soft seating areas.
Two of these spaces are intended for teenagers. Each has a huge, colorful chandelier above a group of four low chairs that sit around a low table. There are another half-dozen plush seating clusters spread throughout the cafe, mostly in areas away from regular seating so parents and other adults can have private conversations.
All tables also have USB charging ports and power hookups.
To entertain children, video projectors display interactive games and activities on tables and there are two bubble walls where children can use buttons to change light colors. A game is also integrated into the terrazzo floor.
About eight of the tiles feature brass images of Kansas City landmarks, and kids can pick up a map as they enter the cafe and play “seek and find” to discover them all.
Food choices galore
Sally the Robot units distribute salads due to the declining popularity of salad bars in a post-COVID world. However, says Gage, they also help cut down on the work a bit and are really fun to watch.
“We wanted a solution that allowed people to create their own salads without taking up our server space just for a salad option,” he says. There was another advantage for the Sallys: previously, evening and night workers couldn’t get salad because the salad bars were unstaffed, and now they can get freshly prepared salad at any time. .
Other food choices change regularly at the cafe, where meals are overseen by Morrison Healthcare. There are two stationary stations, Morrison’s Stretched concept (pizza) and Grill & Co. The other two areas rotate between Morrison’s other 58 concepts, which can range from Cauli Club, a stem root station, to Roost (chicken) and The Taco Shop.
Sometimes Morrison brings a complete concept and sometimes adds elements of a concept to a station in the form of LTOs, says Chad Crabtree, Morrison’s regional operations manager.
“We really try to mix several concepts as we see fit,” he says. “There’s an ebb and flow of brands and we’re taking a lot of feedback and adapting our menus. If something is wrong, they put it aside or change it.
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