Left: Jay de Geus, the first
hot-dog cart operator, recalls
old times with Jim Sinegal at
the opening of Costco’s 500th
warehouse last year in
La Quinta, California. Right:
The Cafe 150 was a late-’80s

Food Court memories

MANY COSTCO MEMBERS have built family traditions around the Costco Food Court. Here’s a selection from the dozens of members who shared with us their Food Court recollections. Thanks to all who responded. Limited space kept us from using more of your stories.

“Reducing handling improves quality,” says Bob Collins, Food Courts operations director. “ Condiment freshness has been boosted by serving mustard, ketchup and relish in vacuum-packed bags. Also, the hot dog rolls are stored carefully so that the first time they are handled is to go into the steamer.”

Dietary concerns are on the radar. Nutrition values are posted in those Food Court locations where the law requires that. Improving those values is a challenge, but a recent initiative removed all non-naturally-occurring trans fats from the churros, croutons and salad dressing sold at the Food Court.

What about going green? A composting program for the Food Courts to recycle all waste except foil and plastic utensils is being tested. The key to success is being able to align with the right local partners to complete the process.

Another initiative concerns the fountain drink syrup. By switching to a higher-yield concentrate, 50 fewer truckloads will be coming to Costco depots in 2009, with the switch yielding a big reduction in cardboard waste as well.

How do you measure value? Price is a big part, as is product quality. Factor into that a business operation that is committed to constantly raising the bar for efficiency and improving the Food Court experience for Costco members.

“We are a member service that enhances the value of membership,” says Alan Bubitz, Costco vice president of food services. “We continue to hold prices, give fantastic value and exceed member expectations of quality, service and cleanliness.”

Note to self: Check that hot dog combo price again in 2034. C

Iwas on my way to a family gathering at my parents’ backyard. My wife called and asked me to pick up some pineapple at Costco on my way. I planned to quickly dash in and out of the Duncanville, Texas, location. Upon showing my card at the door, I was rerouted through the gate to the Food Court, where I was met with a huge birthday banner and about a hundred people yell-

ing “Surprise!” There was a buffet featuring Costco pizza, salad, party foods, drinks and, best of all, two kinds of birthday cake. I was further surprised with Costco Cash cards and a terrific new grill! Needless to say, Costco is my favorite place to shop, and if anyone didn’t know it before the party, they do now.

Dan Cooper Midlothian, Texas

Fourteen years ago, I was a single parent with a 2-year-old. I met a wonderful guy who had a Costco card. I didn’t have my own at the time and had always wanted to go and shop at Costco. Both he and I worked full time, so we didn’t get a chance to see each other much during the week, but we made a standing date. Once a week my son and I would meet him at Costco, shop if we needed, but most of all have dinner together at the Food Court. It was one of the best times of my life. Our weekly dates continued for over a year until we were married. We don’t go weekly now, but when we do go to Costco to shop we always stop to have dinner and talk about our dinner dates.

Joan Zangara Clifton, New Jersey