July 30, 2010

2010 Facility Design Project of the Year: Live! Market at Indiana Live! Casino in Shelbyville, Ind.

This colorful, marketplace-style foodservice facility with display-cooking equipment, retail displays and a pay-at-the-end POS system brings a fresh concept to Indiana’s first land-based casino.

Live! Market Buffet is one of several foodservice outlets at the $300 million, 223,000-square-foot Indiana Live! Casino in Shelbyville, Ind. The facility is supported by a 9,900-square-foot kitchen and 1,100-square-foot pump room for beer, liquor and soda, which also serves the casino’s other foodservice operations. The foodservice investment totaled $22 million.

The distinct positioning of the $7 million, 14,440-square-foot, 280-seat Live! Market impressed the judges. “This is the perfect market because layout draws customers in through an entrance on the casino floor,” said one judge. “It offers a good twist on a scatter system and allows customers an opportunity to buy meals as well as small retail items and gifts.”

“We wanted something that would attract guests not only to the gaming but also the dining establishments,” says Bob Zitto, vice president of food and beverage for The Cordish Company, which developed and manages the casino. “This is a combination farmers market and restaurant. We balance 24-hour stations with daypart-specific stations and accessibility to the casino.”

Live! Market contains six stations: Bakery, with grab-and-go sandwiches, desserts and coffee; Mediterranean, with a hearth oven; Fire, featuring a charbroiler and rotisserie; Asian, set up with woks and a sushi counter; Salad/Fruit/Smoothies; and Adult Beverage. Each station has a retail component. Fire offers barbecue sauces and marinades; Mediterranean sells imported pastas, sauces and packaged antipasto; and Adult Beverage offers coffees, teas, sodas, and bottled wine and beer. Each section has its own equipment and vertical food shields, creating the feel of a farmers market.

The way each station’s unique characteristics come together drew high marks from the judges. “Each station transitions to the next one so you always know you’re in one cohesive facility,” one judge noted.

“The stations don’t look empty when they aren’t in use because of their different materials and retail components,” says Jennifer Safran, director of business development for JEM Consulting Group, the design firm for the project. “This is a credit to the interior designers’ creativity.”

Attention to detail, bright colors, bold signage and hundreds of textures and shapes combine to produce the lively marketplace. “We wanted customers to feel as though they were no longer inside of a casino, but rather wandering through an eclectic market where they can order and purchase food to their hearts’ delight, similar to what you might find at Pike’s Market in Seattle,” says Lora Hunsaker, interior design project manager at WESTAR Architectural Group.

“We also wanted customers to feel their way through the space using their senses, particularly sight and smell,” Hunsaker says. This is accomplished with natural wood and stone, splashes of color in acrylic and resin from South America, and other materials conveying an organic, sensual experience.

Judges applauded the facility’s efficient flow for customers. “It is wide open so customers aren’t funneled into any one location and aren’t caught in ‘pinch points,’” a judge said.

Contributing to the ease is a pay-at-the-end POS system that encourages sales and speeds lines. Customers shop with plastic cards, which servers punch based on items customers select. Zitto believes this system will control food costs because customers will choose only what they know they will eat.

Another factor contributing to the efficient flow is the fact that the Asian, Fire and Mediterranean stations contain components for a complete meal so that customers don’t have to visit several stations. Another plus: Each station’s self-contained setup allows for easy restocking.

The flexibility and creative use of equipment—here, a $5.5 million investment—is key. “The combined form and function of the equipment takes cooking to a new level,” one judge said.

The equipment selection by Safran and Jason Geckeler, who is based at JEM’s Pleasantville, N.J., headquarters, includes a combination of buy-out, modified buy-out and custom-designed/built items. Geckeler designed Fire’s charbroiler, Mediterranean’s charbroiler/display case, the self-serve refrigerated counters at Salad and the cold/hot holding counters at the Salad and Mediterranean stations.

This facility’s design, décor and equipment demonstrate their symbiotic relationship, deserving of FE&S’ highest project design recognition.

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