Chicago, IL

Design, Equipment Supply & Installation, Smallwares Supply

Optiver, a global market maker, recently expanded its headquarters in Chicago with a move to the 8th and 9th floors of One Prudential Plaza. The new, larger space, which can house up to 600 staff, was designed to prioritize collaboration and wellbeing. The foodservice offerings play a primary role in meeting those priorities, and Boelter’s team was proud to be a part of creating a brand-new dining experience for the staff at Optiver.

The multi-faceted project includes a cafeteria serving breakfast and lunch, pantries set up with storage space for people who bring food for lunch, grab-and-go foods and self-service coffee and espresso, a coffee bar staffed with a barista, and a bar for entertaining clients or relaxing at the end of a long day. Partnering with Boelter meant the team at Optiver could rely on one source to oversee the entire project, from initial design to sourcing equipment, overseeing installation, and providing supplies including glasses and dishware.

New and Improved Dining

Optiver’s goals for this new facility included creating a kitchen that could prepare more food onsite than at its previous facility while striving to be as environmentally friendly as possible. The company also put a strong emphasis on creating a welcoming environment where people could gather, while at the same time meeting the needs of people who had to get in and out in a hurry.

“We started out by creating a dining experience with an open, station-centered concept in the front-of-house area. The four stations – a soup and salad bar, two hot/cold stations and an action station – allow for flexibility in menu offerings and help with crowd control by allowing people to disperse rather than queueing up,” says Eric Chaplick, lead designer at Boelter.

Thanks to the experience and ingenuity of the team from Boelter, equipment plays a large part in the flexibility of these stations.

Built-in induction warmers. The main service line looks like a flat countertop, but in reality, contains four induction warmers dropped in the base of the counter. Customized stonework sourced by the Boelter team covers each warmer and gives the operator endless creativity in using the counter. With the use of a trivet, a stainless steel pot can be put over the warmers to serve hot foods, or the space can be cleared away completely, leaving a flat surface to serve fruit or bread trays for a party with no exposed equipment on the counter.

Flexible equipment. Food wells that can switch from hot to cold, and equipment that can cook something as gentle as an omelet at breakfast to hamburgers and grilled chicken at lunch, optimize the station space. The action station is also designed to host area restaurants during a meal service, adding even more variety to the menu options.

Custom sneeze guards. Flexibility serves the Optiver project beyond just cooking and meal prep. The facility includes a custom sneeze guard designed specifically for this project. “Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, we learned the importance of being able to switch from self-service to full-service in a facility,” says Adam Goodloe, designer and project manager for Boelter. “For that reason, I wanted to install something that would add flexibility to the type of service at each station.”

Goodloe worked directly with Premier Metal and Glass to create a sneeze guard with the ability to provide sanitary protection in cases where customers serve themselves, with hinges to fold the sneeze guard down for a service line. Coined “The Adam,” the new design provides benefits in cleaning as well. At the coffee bar, where equipment is heavy and hard to move, the operator can come around to the serving side and fold the glass down to clean it. On the serving lines being able to clean from the customer-facing side means operators no longer have to reach over the counter or wait until equipment cools down before starting the cleaning process. The hinged equipment adds efficiency and improves ergonomics.

A Commitment to Sustainable Practices

Throughout the project, Optiver’s commitment to sustainability remained front and center. Ventless equipment in the kitchen, including an Alto Shaam Converge oven, helps reduce the emissions put into the environment. All the equipment is also electric, in part from necessity as gas lines can’t be run to the eighth floor, but it serves as one more way Optiver reduces its carbon footprint.

A reusable wear program plays a significant role in meeting the foodservice operation’s sustainability goals. The decision not to use disposables came after the initial design was completed, but Boelter’s team rose to the challenge. “We put our heads together and moved quickly to free up space for a commercial dishwasher with its accompanying condensate hood,” Goodloe says. “We were able to re-allocate some space in the design to meet the new goals of the project.”

In addition to equipment, Boelter also helped source the glasses and tableware for the program. “Having those resources available is valuable for the client,” Goodloe says. “They can get everything they need for a project with one point of contact.”

Coffee, Shakes and More

The options available through the new foodservice operation at Optiver go well beyond a traditional breakfast and lunch service. The installation of a full, self-service coffee bar allows employees to order their own drinks, everything from espresso to macchiato. “We invited the team from Optiver to experience the new espresso machine through a live demo at our office, and they fell in love with the quality and convenience it provides,” Goodloe says. Refrigerated storage at the bar is deep enough to hold the milks and syrups for all combinations of coffee drinks, as well as berries and other items for milkshakes and smoothies.

The coffee bar isn’t the only bar in this dining area. A bar complete with a four-tap beer system and a complete set-up for making specialty cocktails serves as a central area for meeting with clients or taking a short break from work. This area also includes glass-door refrigerators that stock a wide variety of drink options. The bar is set up for self-service but can also be staffed by a bartender during events.

Designed with the Workplace in Mind

Three pantries stationed throughout the area add to the convenience and flexibility of Optiver’s new dining facility. These areas include grab-and-go merchandisers with drinks, snacks, and a variety of ready-made items. Built-in shelves hold cookies, chips, and nuts for easy snacking throughout the day. There is also refrigeration available for people who bring their own lunch or snacks to work. And a self-serve espresso machine makes it easy for people to get coffee and other made-to-order drinks quickly to take back to the office.

Throughout the project, convenience was a top priority. It shows especially in two areas:

  • The water bottle filling stations. Boelter’s design team went the extra mile to find an option with the PSI to fill a 32-ounce bottle in less than four seconds.
  • Bussing stations. Once the project switched to reusable wear, Boelter added multiple bussing stations throughout.

Whether adapting the design to fit a new client priority or leveraging relationships with equipment manufacturers to get the right product for the job, the Boelter team’s experience and dedication to customer service helped create the elevated dining experience Optiver imagined for its new office space. The result is an open, beautiful area with plenty of room to relax, refresh, entertain and collaborate.

Learn more about Adam Goodloe's and Eric Chaplick's extensive project portfolio

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