By Lynn O’Neill
When Santa Clarita-based internet marketing firm, Scorpion, decided to construct their new 100,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art headquarters, it was designed with its employees in the forefront of its mind. Scorpion wanted to provide a place that offered their workers amenities and resources to work efficiently and be as productive as possible including an indoor/outdoor dining area with a restaurant-style café.
While the option of partnering with a standard “cookie cutter” catering operation that specialized in corporate meal planning was available - Scorpion knew that they were not a one-size-fits-all kind of business and opted to partner with local and independent business owners of Wolf Creek Restaurant and Brewery, Laina and Rob McFerren.
OPPORTUNITY IN A UNIQUE BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP
The McFerren’s and Scorpion’s CFO, Matt Shepherd, met to discuss his vision of a customized café menu focusing on local, sustainable, and organic ingredients in its daily breakfast and lunch options, as well as snack offerings for its approximately 500 employees.
“The opportunity to run the Scorpion Café gave us a very unique third operation to our company,” said Laina. “It gave us a chance to try many things that just wouldn’t work in the restaurant setting – and being able to try new things is something that is really motivating.”
With all in agreement that the partnership was a good fit, the McFerren’s quickly moved forward to find a chef to help execute this new business endeavor. Thanks to a referral from Santa Clarita’s College of the Canyon’s ICUE (Culinary) program and Chef Daniel Otto, Laina and Rob were introduced to Chef Evelyn Contreras.
Chef Evelyn, a graduate of the COC’s ICUE program, had experience working at another local college and had a good base of knowledge for this specific type of operation. Laina, Rob, and Evelyn pulled together along with members of Scorpion to develop the initial menu to suit the company's needs. It has continued to evolve ever since.
WHAT’S ON THE MENU?
The cafeteria (commonly referred to as Figs’ Office - see sidebar), offers a combination of prepared entrees and made to order items from the grill, deli, salad, and pizza stations. It features a wide range of constantly changing items including house-made cinnamon rolls, vegan/vegetarian options, sushi, hamburgers, Panini’s, burritos, and a large selection of cookies and desserts.
“We stock over 1,200 custom made grab and go items per week, which we label using a great machine we found through the Jordano’s Food and Equipment Show,” says Chef Evelyn. “And we’re responsible for maintaining packaged snacks (chips, granola bars, fruit, etc.) which are available at any time for the Scorpion staff.”
The snacks provided at Fig’s Office is a far cry from the typical vending machine line up. Like their breakfast and lunch options, the focus is on providing healthy and organic snacks at every opportunity, many of which are obtained through UNFI’s partnered program, Jordano’s Natural Marketplace. The Jordano’s Natural Marketplace is a premier source for natural, organic and specialty goods offering more than 30,000 products from leading specialty manufacturers.
The services offered don’t stop there. Laina and Chef Evelyn also provide catering for Scorpion’s more exclusive meetings and events. “Whether it’s small breakfast/luncheon to entertain clients, large staff meetings, or a grand holiday event for the whole staff, we help the Scorpions with all of their food and beverage needs,” said Chef Evelyn.
QUALITY INGREDIENTS, AND A COMMITMENT IN SERVICE.
Chef Evelyn does a remarkable job preparing all the meals and snacks - in a relatively small window of time - and with that comes the challenge of accommodating to a very large number of dietary restrictions and preferences. Fortunately, Chef Evelyn has lots of experience in this area and partners with Jordano’s so that she can constantly try new menu items and source products based on requests from the Scorpion team.
Working closely with Chef Evelyn’s is JFS Account Executive, Joe Ramboldt. “Since day one, Jordano’s has helped us plan, source and obtain special ingredients so we can take care of Scorpion,” said Chef Evelyn. “Jordano’s is by far our main supplier. We use Jordano’s for almost everything from organic eggs, sustainable fish, Mel-Fry Non-GMO Fryer Oil, and meat alternative burgers from Impossible Foods.”
“I appreciate the variety of items I can get from Jordano’s,” adds Laina. "Jordano’s is a one-stop shop that I can go to for anything from equipment, to vegan items, to sustainable fish options, to paper straws. It’s easy when I only have to make one phone call to get almost anything I need.” Laina continues, “Evelyn and I were discussing that we have worked with many different vendors over the years, including some of your major competitors. The level of service and personal attention that Joe provides is unmatched! We joke that he is our “favorite employee” and should just be on the schedule at Fig’s Office since he is such a constant presence!”
Jordano’s commitment to developing these relationships builds trust between us and our customers and we strive to provide the services that the customers need to keep their operation successful. Beyond being the primary distributor for Fig’s Office, Joe works to ensure that what they are offering is the best quality on the market.
To exemplify this service added, Fig’s Office has a full-service coffee bar that offers a wide variety of hot and cold espresso and coffee drinks, as well as an assortment of tea beverages and smoothies. To ensure that the café was brewing the best quality coffee, Joe brought in Jordano’s Specialty Coffee Program Sales and Service Specialists, Robert Scott and George Juarez. Over the course of several afternoons, Robert and George dedicated their time to conduct an espresso and coffee blind tasting for Laina, Chef Evelyn, and Scorpion’s CEO, Matt Shephard. As a result of the tasting, it was decided that Fig’s Office would transition their current line of coffees and espressos to the Peerless gourmet coffee line.
The cafeteria is also transitioning their line of disposable to-go containers to a reusable, eco-conscious line. “Scorpion is very excited about the impact this will have on trash reduction and sustainability,” says Chef Evelyn. “We would have not known this option existed without Joe and Jordano’s.”
“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to work with a company as great as Scorpion,” comments Laina. “It’s allowed us to really expand our base of knowledge and grow as an operation. We appreciate the service that Jordano’s has provided us. It has allowed us to fulfill Scorpion’s needs and keep their employees fed and happy!”