HaysMed cafe receives makeover
Hays Daily News
March 16, 2016By Maggie Gebhardt
Hays Medical Center patients, families and staff now have a few more options when it comes to dining within the hospital.
Since the end of November, HaysMed has been in the process of renovating and upgrading its cafeteria, now known as Rock Garden Cafe.
The remodeled area offers a new dining experience, as well as a wider variety of healthy food options.
“It needed an upgrade; it had probably been 20 years,” said John Fitzthum, food service manager and chef. “We just wanted to freshen it up and make it a place where people can feel more comfortable.”
Previously, the space was not functional enough to serve the kind of food staff is providing, 80 percent of which Fitzthum said is fresh and homemade.
“We’re cooking from scratch,” he said. “I believe in preparing food; I don’t think a manufacturer should prepare food for us.”
Fitzthum said HaysMed has been planning to make the cafeteria updates for several years, and when he began working at the hospital about a year and a half ago, the planning went into action.
“He has been able to get so much done in the short time he’s been here,” said Gayla Wichman, director of marketing at HaysMed.
Now, the cafe features a custom made-to-order deli area, offering daily, freshly made bread, wraps and sandwiches.
“I’m excited we actually have a working deli now,” said Katie Obholz, an employee at the cafe. “We’re trying to go away from processed foods, so now we’re making bread daily, roasting our own pork, things like that.”
Another added feature is a market-style grab-and-go area, which Fitzthum said he feels will be beneficial for patients and families who need something to eat quickly.
Other areas include a two-sided salad bar and a saute or freestyle area, which provides freshly made breakfast including omelets, pancakes and more, according to Wichman.
“Of course, we also have to have the traditional hot serving line, which we do, but we made it more efficient,” Fitzthum said.
In addition to the many menu enhancements, the environment of the space also was updated.
Fitzthum said he had a vision of creating a more modern, metallic atmosphere to tie into the rock garden outside the cafe.
“One of my thoughts was that we needed to tie the eclectic peacefulness of the rock garden into the modern metallic of the DeBakey Heart Institute,” he said. “I wanted to meet somewhere in the middle with the colors and tones, and I think we’ve done that.”
Staff said the reaction of diners has been positive.
“I think everyone just really likes that it’s so much brighter down here, and there’s so much more space,” Wichman said. “To finally see it all completed, it’s really exciting.”