Prairie High School Cafeteria
The Prairie High School cafeteria project was a from-scratch build in a new campus building, replacing a cramped and dated kitchen/cafeteria space. Fellow Cedar Rapidians and valued partners, OPN Architects, were responsible for the design of the building. The overall vision was to create ample working space for the employees, as well as a unique and efficient dining experience for the students.
One of the challenges of this job was the lack of a loading dock onsite. Nearly all of the equipment had to be brought into the project through the back service doors, and the exhaust hoods actually needed to be brought in through the commons before the windows were installed. They hadn’t poured the concrete flooring yet, so the hoods were hand-carried through the dirt by about dozen strong-backed workers.
Additional novel features include curb-based counters in the servery (meaning the fronts are molded into a curb that’s attached to the floor, while the backs of the counters are on legs) and custom-fabricated solid surfaces in the serving area. The curb-based counters allow for a more permanent installation and are much easier to clean, and the custom surfaces have intricately tiled “customer-facing” sides.
In terms of equipment, there are a total of four double stack combi ovens in the facility. Two are located in the serving area with another two in the back-of-house production area. The kitchen boasts a full bakery with two rack rotating ovens and a 4-rack proofer. There is also a huge butcher block bakers table, a sheeter/molder, dough divider, and even a bun slicer.
The facility has a total of 6 walk in coolers, all of which feature 10-foot-tall ceilings and insulated concrete floors covered in tile, providing plenty of cold storage available on site to support the entire district.
Specialized locations provide students with a number of options as they enter the servery, including a market grill area, pizza area, and more. The variety of choices ensure each student is available to have a healthy (and delicious!) meal.