Innovative partnership revolutionizes hospital dining experience
Niagara University's president, the Rev. James J. Maher, and Memorial Medical Center President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo today celebrated a unique partnership between the two cornerstones of the community with the dedication and blessing of the new Tenth Street Café.
Located in the medical center, the Tenth Street Café is the culmination of a nine-month effort by the university's College of Hospitality and Tourism, Memorial Medical Center and Cannon Design to create a modern café that replaces the hospital's outdated cafeteria and provides a memorable and enjoyable food service experience for the medical center's patients, visitors and staff members.
It also provides internship opportunities for students.
"This program benefits our students by giving them hands-on opportunities to apply what they've learned in class to an operational facility that serves a tremendously diverse customer population," Maher said. "In turn, Memorial now enjoys of some of the latest research into food service and customer service best practices."
"We were determined to create something special, a place with a non-institutional vibe that would be a restful oasis in the midst of all the activity we see here every day," Ruffolo said. "Thanks to the enthusiasm and dedication of our partners at Niagara University and Cannon Design we have done so - and in a way that has generated a great deal of excitement."
That excitement hasn't been limited to the café's customers. National food service publications also have taken notice, Ruffolo noted.
Led by Executive Chef LaMont Singletary, a 2013 Niagara University graduate, the Tenth Street Café offers homemade, restaurant-quality menu items made fresh every day using natural ingredients whenever possible. The café also bakes a popular variety of gourmet brick-oven pizza.
Meals are served in a comfortable, modern setting that includes bistro and lounge seating along with a fireplace, large-screen televisions and Wi-Fi access.
"For Cannon Design, this project represents so much more than a renovation of the cafeteria," said Cannon Principal Michael Mistriner, AIA. "This is a complete transformation of the dining experience focusing on the quality of the food, quality of the experience and quality of the environment."
Going forward, the College of Hospitality and Tourism will work with Memorial to introduce current best practices in customer service with an eye toward improving customer and patient satisfaction.
"This type of input from non-health care professionals will bring a whole new perspective to our understanding of the way patients perceive the quality of care they receive," Ruffolo said. "That perspective will benefit our patients and their families in a very positive way."
Ruffolo noted the partnership also would promote local workforce development by expanding internship opportunities in career areas that are important to a health care industry that's increasingly focused on patient and customer satisfaction.
"As mission-driven, community-focused organizations, Niagara University and Memorial Medical Center share the same service values and are deeply committed to making the Niagara region a better place to live and work. Partnerships such as this are a very meaningful way for us to live into that commitment," he said.
"The collaboration speaks to our Vincentian mission by supporting service-learning activities in which students reach out with compassion to serve people's basic needs," Maher said. "This partnership embodies the eternal values of St. Vincent de Paul, combining the heart of a servant with a commitment to excellence in all that we do."