L+M Hospital opens new coffee shop and renovated dining area
New London — Lawrence + Memorial Hospital visitors and staff have a new place to get their coffee, and an updated dining room to sit for a meal.
Hospital officials unveiled a new coffee shop off of L+M's lobby Monday, part of several changes to the hospital's dining options since a new food contractor took over this spring.
Called The Copper Spoon, the cafe brings coffee and snacks back to an area in the hospital's front lobby that previously housed a coffee shop run by the hospital's auxiliary group and a short-lived hospital-run shop called The Wave Café, but has been empty since 2014. L+M dining services employees trained as baristas will sell Starbucks coffee, pastries and snacks provided by Morrison Healthcare, the Atlanta-based food service company that manages dining services at Yale New Haven Hospital and in April took over dining services at L+M, which joined the same hospital system as Yale New Haven in 2016.
The hospital had been managing the provision of meals to patients and visitors internally, and brought in Morrison this year to improve the quality of the food and make the hospital's dining areas more hospitable for visitors and staff. A seating area off the lobby will still accommodate about a dozen people and members of the public will still have access to a small conference room near the cafe.
"We're hoping it will be more of a community spot," said Kim Kalajainen, L+M's vice president of ancillary and support services.
Kalajainen bought The Copper Spoon's inaugural cup of coffee — a cafe au lait in a to-go cup — for L+M President and CEO Patrick Green before a line quickly formed at the register.
Monday also marked the opening of a renovated dining area in the hospital's cafeteria, complete with a fresh coat of paint, new furniture and several large decorations resembling 10-foot embroidery hoops hanging from the room's high ceiling.
Hospital employees, who have been eating their meals in conference rooms while the renovations were underway, trickled into the new dining area Monday morning, admiring the changes.
"It was a 1980s hospital (cafeteria) and now it's a 2018 (cafeteria)," said Monica Pepin, a nursing coordinator.
The renovations in the dining room will be followed by updates in the coming months to the adjacent serving area where people pick up prepared food or meals cooked by the hospital's kitchen, and an updated menu that will include a salad bar, fresh-made sandwiches and rotating seasonal specials, said executive chef Salvatore Argento.
The cafeteria serves up to 400 people every day for lunch, about 100 people for breakfast and about 200 people for dinner, in addition to the 250 meals the dining services staff makes to deliver to patients' rooms. The cafeteria also draws some regular diners who come to L+M just for lunch, Kalajainen said.
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