Hospital Cafe Planning: How to Provide Grab and Go Items that Drive Satisfaction and Revenue


In a hospital setting, there are many individuals seeking a quick and satisfying snack or meal every day. From hospital employees to the changing stream of visitors, it’s imperative to retain satisfaction in order to collect steady revenue from this captive audience. Let’s take a look at how to plan successful grab and go food retail section that will keep everyone coming back for more.


Before you can start to work on the display, you should focus on the retail food and beverage items offered in your hospital’s café. It is important to provide a variety of options from healthy to comfort foods as you are feeding employees regular meals and snacks as well as feeding and nurturing visitors that may be in high stress situations. The selection of food should include fresh and perishable food that needs refrigeration as well as pre-packaged and freshly made dry food options.

This selection could include:

Refrigerated Food


  • Fresh packaged salads
  • Fresh fruit and packaged fruit
  • Yogurt and granola cups
  • Protein drinks
  • String cheese
  • Milk
  • Bottled water
  • Juice
  • Soda

Dry Storage


  • Cookies
  • Granola bars
  • Nuts
  • Chips
  • Candy
  • Beef jerky
  • Cereal
  • Trail mix

Fresh Baked Goods


  • Bagels
  • Cookies
  • Muffins
  • Scones

Creating the Display

Begin by creating a retail-like atmosphere to attract employees and hospital guests to remain on campus for all meal times. The key is to showcase your products in a well-lit, clean and easy-to-access area.

Display your food retail items in multiple locations. This increases the chance for added purchasing options and spreads the same options around the café area to minimize crowding. Consider displaying food in the following areas: buffet counters, near the register, in designated refrigerated and pantry sections and in vending machines outside of the main café area.


In order to create the best retail atmosphere for your hospital café, you will need the right equipment. Use a combination of refrigerated merchandising units and display supplies to keep your grab-and-go retail area inviting and easily accessible.

Open air merchandisers are available in a variety of sizes and can be installed next to registers, pantry sections or side-by-side in a large refrigerated section. These merchandisers provide easy access as they have no doors to open or close. Horizontal models are ideal for wide spaces and also provide the best access for those in wheelchairs or with limited mobility. Vertical models are perfect for narrow spaces and small cafes. Both units have ample shelving options, so be sure to select one that can accommodate your inventory.

Dual zone display merchandisers provide the same self-serve refrigerated display as open air merchandisers, but with the added benefit of an upper compartment that can be refrigerated or kept at room temperature. This commercial display merchandiser is ideal for hospital cafes looking to showcase both refrigerated and dry goods in one easy-to-access location.

Display refrigerators are different from merchandising units in that they have a door to open and close. These units are available as countertop refrigerators, floor model refrigerators and 25” refrigeration models that can be used on countertop surfaces or on the floor. Display refrigerators have two types of door options: swing open and slide open. With these two options, it is important to consider your overall available space and the type of population your café serves. Swinging doors can restrict pathways and cause a disruption to the overall flow of customer traffic. Sliding doors can be difficult for those with limited mobility and reach.

Display baskets are perfect for showcasing fresh produce, slices of toasted or untoasted bread, muffins, scones or small bagged or boxed foods.

Display stands include cake stands, tiered display stands, display risers and stands for holding and raising plates and bowls above countertop areas.

Food jars are perfect for displaying bagels, cookies and dessert bars on countertops and near check-out areas.

Be sure to provide clean serving tongs for any displayed retail food item that is not packaged.

Keep your café ready for the time-crunched customer with the right equipment and an appetizing selection of food. A smart variety of options along with a vibrant display is sure to increase revenue and retain customer satisfaction for your hospital’s café program.


About Author

Maggie Henderson

Maggie once gained five pounds in pursuit of the perfect Indian dal recipe. When she isn't cooking, she spends her days as a marketer and her nights and weekends blogging, taking pictures and chasing after her son and dog.

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