What’s Your Connection?

Sometimes you have these “small world” moments as you figure out odd connections between your past and present or work and personal life. Most stories about these kinds of connections I hear today involve social media. This “small world” connection is a bit different than that, you see it involves a Rippe Associates employee, a major educational institution, and an architect.  As Mike Rowe might say, this is the way I heard it . . .

During Shane Cory’s first year the University of Minnesota, he lived in Frontier Hall and was looking for ways to connect to the campus. As an avid participant in student programs in high school, he saw a poster to join the Frontier Community Council and thought he’d give it a try. While on this council Shane worked with the Assistant Residential Advisor, whom then asked if he wanted to be on a panel that gave a student’s perspective during the programming and design of a new residence hall. As an architecture and art student, Shane decided to jump at the offer and thought this could provide valuable and potentially applicable experience.

During the planning of 17th Avenue Residence Hall, Shane was surprised by many things, the soil testing, the thought that went into the landscape design, that they discussed many shades of paint and brick. The most memorable for Shane was when Shawn, from Studio Hive, filled a huge room full of variations of furniture that could go into the residence hall. Chairs, tables, couches and so much more were all there for the entire panel to try out and give opinions on.

17th Avenue Residence Hall

View of the finished salad bar area at 17th Avenue Residence Hall

Another part of the experience he remembers were all the digital walkthroughs that were done because you could visually see what the space would look like. He remembers architects from TKDA and KWK, Brian, Sara & Paul, adjusting the plan based on feedback given during these sessions and seeing the updated versions right then or at the next meeting.

He also gained some experience at Centennial foodservice during his freshman and part of his sophomore year. After being a part of the ground-breaking ceremony, Shane went on to live in Comstock Hall and get involved in the Community Council at Comstock as well. “Living in the dorms you are presented a lot of opportunities you don’t get living off campus,” says Shane.

Later in his college career, Shane was given an assignment in one of his classes to interview people and find out what they like about their job, Shane interviewed Shawn and Brian. Through these interviews and his experience on the student panel, he learned that customer service is extremely important. Being able to listen and react to the customer’s questions, comments and answers are valuable. Nobody wants just the cookie cutter design or equipment package.

After graduating, Shane was looking for his next step. He saw an advertisement for a position that required the ability to utilize Revit. Being the self-confident one that he is, he took it upon himself to start learning Revit. As it turned out, his AutoCAD skills were not as translatable to Revit as he would have liked, but this company called him in for an interview and to take a Revit test! “Oh man, I freaked out during that Revit test! I knew I missed a measurement. I sat in my apartment debating if I should call and fess up to my error or not. I finally called Jan and started telling her what I missed. After I hung up, I convinced myself I had no chance of getting the job.”

But at this company, they thought he was ideal! He knew enough to be dangerous, but not enough that he was too set in his ways. Once here for a few weeks, he heard people talking about the 17th Avenue Residence Hall project and decided to join the conversation. After everyone figured out the “small world” connection, it was an interesting exchange of stories and perspectives. Its things like this that prove to me repeatedly that you don’t know how the connections you are making now, will be useful later. And sometimes, you even get to dig out that groundbreaking hard hat and golden shovel for one more photo op!

Shane & His Golden Shovel

Do you have a small-world connection in your work life?

What’s Your Alphabet Soup?

Every industry has their group or association to assist those in the field with lessons learned, networking and advancing their profession. Foodservice is no different, there’s the National Restaurant Association (NRA), National Association of College & University Foodservice (NACUFS), Association for Healthcare Foodservice (AHF), Society for Hospitality & Foodservice Management (SHFM), and on and on and on . . . you could probably just pick out some letters of the alphabet and it would be someone’s organization!

In our world, that group is called Foodservice Consultants Society International (FCSI). Many members of our office have been, or are, on committees, helped plan events, been co-chairs of our chapter and even become Professional Members!

One of our active FCSI members is Shelby, she is the leader of the Committee for Emerging Consultants (C4EC), which strives to provide the opportunity to learn how to become a professional member and is a vehicle to connecting new members with established members. She recently attended the FCSI Upper Midwest Chapter Event which was held at the Surly Brewery in Minneapolis, MN. Here is her synopsis of the event recently published in the monthly email blast to all FCSI members:

We enjoyed an educational insight on designing the Surly Brewery by Rippe Associates’ President Steve Carlson, FCSI.  Steve highlighted the goals and challenges of the design and execution of the venues. Surly provided a presentation on the history of the brand, as well as kitchen tours with the head chef to see the design and operation first hand. A panel of local service tech employees provided a valuable question and answer session on the common issues they see in the field and face within the industry. In the future, our industry will see issues as fewer service technicians are coming into the field. As consultants, we should also consider what we can do to extend our service to clients to help them maintain the equipment we specify. Thank you to everyone involved in hosting such a great event!

FCSI Event at Surly

Group poses for a quick photo after Steve Carlson discussed his design efforts at Surly Brewery during the FCSI Upper Midwest Chapter Event.

So, now that you know a little bit about ours . . . have you enjoyed your profession’s alphabet soup lately? If so, let us know what a typical gathering is like for you!


FCSI’s Upper Midwest Chapter Event at Surly Brewery

Our Time Gaining Perspective and Cultivating Relationships

Some foodservice design consultants walk into a custom fabrication shop . . .

. . . no, this is not the beginning of a really great joke, nope, just another day at the office for some members of Team Rippe.

Thanks to Brandon Hansen and his crew at Albers Commercial Kitchen Services, we were welcomed into – or invaded (however you want to look at it) – their shop last week. Members of our team had the opportunity to see custom fabricated pieces, in progress, from projects they had drawn. They also discussed various construction methods, asked questions about our standard details, and gained a better understanding of the fabricator’s job and perspective.

Zach wanted to go to Albers in an effort to “better understand the inner workings of a counter. It’s one thing to see something in 2D on a computer, but it always helps to see it in person.”

Rippe Touring Albers

Mark and Brandon discussing construction while others look at the in-progress cabinets.

You see, occasionally, we must admit that what we thought would work in our heads and on paper, doesn’t necessarily translate into real-life the way we envisioned. Having a positive relationship with Albers, helps us to do our job better. When we do our job better, Brandon, Jason, Tom and the team at Albers are better able to do quotes, produce accurate shop drawings, and build the final piece from our construction documents because they are clear and reliable.

While at the shop, the group was able to take a few measurements and photos of the framework for the counters he draws in Revit. “It was also helpful to understand the restraints and capabilities of their equipment because it will help to think ‘can this be done’ during design.”

Rippe Touring Albers

Serving counter in progress.

Our project managers also value having a good relationship with the fabricators we recommend and work with during the construction administration phase of a project. Getting a phone call with a problem AND potential solution is always preferred. “I’d much rather have a fabricator call and say, ‘Your drawings say you want this, but that doesn’t work because of this site condition. If I do this other thing instead, you will end up with a very similar result. Is that acceptable?’ It doesn’t serve anyone well when they don’t call at all and I see something that is unusable or detrimental to the efficiencies of an end user when I show up at the punchlist.” says Jill

During the visit, Ashley wanted to see the fabrication process and while there was unexpectedly able to “learn more about muffin fans than I ever thought I needed to know.” Which, some people may just get a confused look on their face, while others will be elated that foodservice design consultants even CONSIDER muffin fans!

Rippe Touring Albers

Check out these muffin fans!

And while we like to stay on-task and all business, we did learn that the team at Albers does have a sense of humor!  You see when the inspector came through and said they had to label ALL of their buildings (some of which seen in the picture below) they decided to name one of their buildings the White House!

Rippe Touring Albers

Millwork, Stainless Cabinets . . . where’s the White House?!

Thanks again to the Albers crew – I’m sure we’ll bother you again soon!

~Team Rippe

Taking One For The Team

There are many things that we “always” do here at Rippe Associates. We have a summer picnic, Monday staff meetings, attend NAFEM, celebrate work anniversaries, and much more. One of the things on that list, the AIA Minneapolis Golf Outing, has “always” been attended by our President, Steve Carlson. This year, however, Steve had a scheduling conflict and was going to be unable to attend. Not wanting to miss out on our opportunity to support the Minnesota Architectural Foundation, two of Steve’s teammates took one for the team and offered to participate in his absence. Mike Wrase and Zach Swanson attended the event on Monday, July 30 at Majestic Oaks Golf Course in Ham Lake, Minnesota.

Wrase prepared for the event by hitting a bucket of balls a few weeks ago, the first time he’s touched his golf clubs since the Toby Tournament in 2016. Since Zach plays golf much more regularly than once every two years, he spent his prep time making sure his alma mater would be represented out on the course by ironing an NDSU patch on his hat the night before the round.

Mike Wrase and Zach Swanson had the pleasure of golfing with Tom Hoskens and Mike Strand from Cuningham Group. Or should I say Tom and Mike had the unfortunate experience of having to golf with Wrase and Zach? Either way, I think they make a great looking foursome!


Throughout the course there were different challenges and prizes to be won. Water bottles were a popular prize as Zach believes he now has eight new ones! His dice rolling skills were a bit lack luster however, so he missed out on the choice between a divot tool with ball marker or a flash light for this one.


I’m told that they did in fact keep score during this scramble-style tournament. Each team would enter their score via the Golf Genius app and they were able to see live scores to see how well (or not) they were doing against the other foursomes. Wrase had a beautiful shot on a par 3 that landed just a few feet from the pin – then he made the birdie putt to put them at two under!


In an attempt to redeem himself from his poor dice-rolling skills, Zach stepped up and proved that he is in fact an excellent golfer, with or without oven mitts!


From the look of these pictures, I’m guessing they will gladly take one for the team if Steve happens to have a conflict again next year!


Passionate + Dedicated = Top Achiever Award

We at Rippe Associates are proud to see Christine’s contributions to our firm and the industry acknowledged by our peers. I regularly see her passion come through in her commitment to quality for her projects, the consulting profession, and healthcare foodservice departments.

Christine and Steve 2018

From her first week on this career path (where she went to a meeting for a regional hospital and they wouldn’t let her leave until there was a schematic design) she proves regularly that she doesn’t shy away from any challenge. Whether it is being allotted enough space by an architect, allocating enough money for the appropriate equipment in the budget by an owner or providing designs that reflect current trends for an outdated department, Christine is a courageous advocate for her clients and passionate about making sure foodservice operators get what they need to meet administration and customer expectations.

Christine is also passionate about continuous improvement. Through her work with various associations that provide resources for operators, consultants, and other industry members, she is always working to push the foodservice industry to the next level. I don’t want to say how long Christine has been at this, but there was a fax machine involved in the beginning, and if I’ve learned anything from her in that time, it’s that her next project is going to build on top of her last, not be the same thing all over again.

Congratulations Christine! It’s a well-deserved acknowledgment of all you have done and continue to do for the foodservice world! ~ Steve

Help Beating the Winter Blues

In Minnesota, it’s not out of the ordinary to wake up and find fresh snow on the ground anytime from October to May. However, when it’s February, you’ve refilled the gas can for the snowblower twice, have endured a week of negative a bazillion degrees windchill and you are getting a bit stir crazy, you invent things to excited about.

Today we woke up to an image very similar to this

Winter Wonderland

To be honest, I was not looking forward to hopping in my car, venturing out on the roads and seeing what the day would bring. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love having a nice fresh snow (instead of the ugly brown melty stuff or the extreme bitter cold), but I’m really wondering if there is going to be an end in sight. Especially since the weather dude on the radio said we might get another 8″ tomorrow!

So there I sat, in traffic, my son singing along to Imagine Dragons for the billionth time, trying to find my thing to get excited about . . . then, halfway through my coffee (thank you caffeine), it hits me . . . I remember it’s Friday! YAHOO! My favorite day at the office! And before you jump to any conclusions . . . Friday is not my favorite day because I don’t have to come in tomorrow or because it’s typically pretty quiet.

Friday is my favorite day because we somehow convinced our awesome boss that every Friday should be Bring Your Dog to Work Day!

Since the first of the year a guest dog gets to come in and hang out with us all day! How awesome is that!?! Well, we think it’s pretty awesome around here. Each week we get a message about the doggie if they are a new visitor letting us know their likes and dislikes, general temperament and any fun facts about them. But the part everyone pays attention to is the “My favorite treat is . . . ” portion! Then they come in with their owner and get fed all day! I’m fairly certain that each dog goes home completely happy, full and ready to nap for the next 24 hours.

So, without further ado, I present to you . . . The Rippe Dogs

Friday Dog Day

Feel free to swing by if you are local on a Friday for something important if you’d like to meet one of these cuties or another one of our doggies that didn’t get their photo taken! I hope you all found your thing to get excited about today!



Remarkable – Starting 20 Years Ago

Twenty years. For some reason that seems like a long time and a short time all at once. Maybe it’s because I’m more “seasoned” now than I was twenty years ago. However, when we sat down to celebrate Amy Fick’s 20th anniversary with the company it really got me thinking about what twenty years means.

In 1997, many things happened (most of which I remember) China resumed control of Hong Kong from England, OJ Simpson lost the civil suit for wrongful death, Princess Diana and Mother Theresa died. Titanic was the biggest box-office film ever, Harry Potter was published, and we all sang “mmmbop” with Hanson. The Marlins won the World Series, the Arizona Wildcats won the NCAA Basketball Championship, the Chicago Bulls won the NBA Championship and the Packers won the Super Bowl. The US was introduced to Pokemon and Amy Fick was introduced to Robert Rippe and Associates.

As an office of just 15 people, there wasn’t much of an orientation or training program, but none the less Amy figured out what we did and how to do it. Over the years she’s seen changes in people, technology, and expectations. What hasn’t changed is her desire to do the best work possible and her love of drawing.  There are not many people who take a job and think they’ll be there 20 years later, yet we have eight people who have been with us for twenty years or longer. I think that says something, not only about our company but this industry. When you find your way to a home, like foodservice consulting, you either embrace it and find that this is your passion, or you get out quickly. Lucky for us, and many of our clients, Amy embraced this industry and strives to provide the best solution possible each day.

Happy anniversary Amy!


Meet The Newest Rippe Team Members

We are so excited that Zach Swanson and Amanda Ahlschwede have joined our team!

Prior to joining Rippe, Zach was a Facility Designer at Maintenance Design Group (MDG), a transportation and operations consultant group. When asked what he likes about the world of foodservice, Zach stated, “Foodservice is an industry in motion. Also, my wife, Toni, is a dietitian and it’s so much fun to share and learn from one another.” Zach is a Project Coordinator and currently learning the ins and outs of the hospitality and gaming segment.

Amanda comes to us from Ball State University where she was a Dining Supervisor. While moving to Minnesota means she is closer to family and gets to participate in all those fun activities, she’s also excited to stay in the foodservice world to keep up on the trends and see how they change. Amanda is an Equipment Specialist and learning how to navigate the world of equipment manufacturer’s to get answers for end users.

While they both agree that the best comfort food is tator tot hot dish – can you tell they love the mid-west? – if you end up at a happy hour with these two, you are going to need to make sure they serve both beer and hard alcohol as Zach likes trying new beers and Amanda will stick with her Jack & Coke.

Welcome to the team Zach & Amanda, we are excited you are here!Newest Team Members

Our Office Operations Team!

For those of you who have visited our office, these may be some familiar faces. If you haven’t been able to make it in, we’d like to show off the people that really run the operation around here! Without these three the rest of us would NOT be able to function! Please say hello to our office operations team . . .

Welcome to the website (1)

Joely is our Administrative Assistant and has the very hard job of making sure we have some sense of sanity around here. She also likes to ask a “Question of the Day” to anyone that will answer!

Gretchen is our Accounting Manager and attempts to keep us all on budget! Whew, that’s a tough one! I’m not sure if she’d say that we are harder to deal with, or her three teenagers 😉

And last, but certainly not least we have our Business Manager Jan. She has many things on her plate, one of which is that she is in charge of making sure our technology is operating and that we aren’t screwing it up. If she’s ever able to find some free time when that is taken care of she can either be found taking pictures, painting or at an auction looking for a deal!

In all honesty, these three have been doing thankless jobs for many years and I wanted to make sure everyone knows who really runs the operations around here! Thank you, Joely, Gretchen, and Jan for all you do for all of us at Rippe Associates!

Kitchen Circulation: Reflections of a Foodservice Designer

When I was in 6th grade I was assigned the greatest project ever – to design and draw my dream home! What could be better? As I start to think about this dream home of mine, I know that it’ll be nothing like my parent’s house. . . it’s so tiny and doesn’t even have a pool! My house is gonna be HUGE! And it’ll have a movie theatre, a mini golf course, a roller rink, a trampoline room and of course, a swimming pool.

I sit down and start to draw my dream home, and it looks a little something like this. . .(only not nearly as nice because I was using colored pencils and a giant piece of poster board).

Dream House

Well, then I grew up, became a foodservice designer and realized that I would never live in said dream house. Looking back, I have to laugh at my design skills at the age of 12, because I included absolutely zero corridors or hallways! Just a room connected to a room connected to a room connected to the POOL!

It’s funny because today when I start to lay out a kitchen, I begin by thinking about traffic patterns and corridors. In the world of hospital foodservice design, there are four main traffic patterns.

  1. Deliveries entering the kitchen
  2. Tray carts to patient floors
  3. Soiled tray carts to the dishroom, and
  4. Staff/visitors to the retail serving area

These traffic patterns have a major impact on the overall foodservice layout, as well as the inter-department corridors.

If you think about all of the activity that’s happening in a kitchen, it’s a lot. People are not only working within their assigned work zones, but they are traveling to storage areas or walk-in boxes to gather ingredients/supplies and collecting soiled pans/utensils and dropping them in the dishroom. They need a way to travel about the department without disrupting the work of others. They need circulation . . . they need corridors!

That said, we do aim to utilize space in an efficient manner by dedicating as much as we can to the actual functions of the kitchen. Even still, we typically figure a 30% circulation factor on our kitchen designs. That means that just about 1/3 of your kitchen will be dedicated to circulation. The reason being is that we want to make sure that we create a distinction between “traffic aisles” and “work aisles”.

A traffic aisle is utilized for just that – traffic. It should not be an area where people are working. From a safety perspective, it’s dangerous to work in a traffic aisle, which is why we also include work aisles. Work aisles are used for working – slicing, dicing, assembling, cooking, baking, brewing, etc., not for pushing or parking carts.

Bottom line here is that, when designing a kitchen, it’s important to consider the corridors – the circulation required for employees to move around to complete their work. In addition, it must include both traffic aisles and work aisles to promote employee safety and efficiency. Unlike my dream home, a kitchen cannot be laid out as a room connected to a room connected to a room.