It is seven o’clock in the morning. Much of Barcelona still sleeps as the sun begins to illuminate its streets, buildings and the sea that bathes its coastline. The first rays of sunlight also begin to appear through the large windows of the IMO's cafeteria. Work has already begun in the building. On the ground floor, doctors attend one of their daily clinical sessions, in which they share their knowledge of the latest ophthalmic advances and discuss cases, before they begin their rounds and operations for the day.
The day has also begun in IMO’s café-restaurant. Alvila Beriguete, one of the two cooks, bakes croissants and breakfast buns and prepares sandwiches. Meanwhile, one of the waiters makes sure that everything is ready for breakfast and fills the coffee pots for the doctors and other staff. At 8 o’clock, the cafeteria opens and receives its first customers. In the kitchen, it is time to prepare the "shopping list". The staff are in contact with suppliers on a daily basis to ensure that produce is always as fresh as possible. In a few hours, a local farmer will be delivering fruit and vegetables, and other trusted suppliers will be filling the fridges with the very best red meat, poultry, eggs, etc.
At 10 a.m., the second cook, Rubén Gómez, begins his day by helping to prepare the set meals and baking bread for lunchtime. 11 o’clock is one of the busiest times in the cafeteria, especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when the highest number of visits and surgical procedures are carried out.
From 12 p.m., the whole team works at full capacity to prepare lunch in the restaurant and the staff canteen, which is located on the second floor. Between 1:30 and 4:00, an average of 35 meals are served every day in the café-restaurant and a similar number in the staff canteen. After lunch, customers ordering coffee and snacks ensure that it remains busy until 8 in the evening, when the coffee machines are finally turned off until the following morning. One of the last to leave is Antonio Bonachera, who is in charge of making sure everything is clean and tidy inside and outside the kitchen.
Under new management
This year has seen IMO’s café-restaurant undergo a number of changes. IMO’s continuous pursuit of excellence has prompted it to give new impetus to a service that is used by a hundred customers every day. "Although medical and surgical care of patients, as well as research and teaching, are the essence of IMO, we also believe that the overall experience for patients and visitors is important to ensure maximum comfort through all of the additional services we offer, especially the café-restaurant," says Francisca Rodríguez, executive director of IMO.
With this in mind, a change in the management of the café-restaurant was implemented on 30 January, when IMO took over its operation and recruited a new team led by Raúl Gómez, who was trained at Barcelona’s Escuela de Hostelería y Restauración and previously worked at the Hotel Meliá in the city. "The new café-restaurant’s main aims are to offer top-quality healthy dishes using fresh seasonal produce and provide the best-possible amenities to customers, in terms of comfort and presentation, as well as a fast, efficient and well-presented food service," explains the new manager.
To achieve this, some new features have been added to the cafeteria, including a bar facing towards the outside, to enable customers to enjoy the views over Barcelona while they have breakfast or lunch, and a discreetly partitioned-off area for groups who wish to have more privacy for business lunches or meetings. Blinds have also been fitted to the windows for the comfort of customers to prevent strong sunlight from entering at certain times of the day.
Regarding the kitchen, there are now two cooks instead of one, "which helps to ensure a faster service and enables more time to be spent on attention to detail when preparing the dishes," explains Raúl Gómez. The front-of-house team is made up of three servers – Cristina Ramos, Berta Segura and José Manuel Yélamos – as well as the manager, Raúl Gómez.
The restaurant offers a varied set meal and a-la-carte menu of Mediterranean cuisine. From the set meal menu, customers can choose from three starters and three main courses, all of which are intended to be as tasty as they are healthy. The a-la-carte menu offers a variety of dishes, from among which Raúl Gómez particularly recommends the Iberian pork with apple, the cream of courgette soap, the baby goat chops with mushrooms and the pina colada.