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!

The Growing and Strengthening College & University Team

Rippe Associates is excited to announce the expansion of its College & University Team with the addition of Darren Peterson. From his most recent position as the Director of Dining for North Dakota State University, Darren comes to Rippe with 23 years of experience in the foodservice industry. He brings extensive operational knowledge & support to Rippe’s growing higher education market.

“Darren is a great addition to the team for a number of reasons, not the least of which are the depth & breadth of his experience and the type of person he is and strives to be every day,” said Terry Pellegrino, principal.

In addition to his most recent role, his 10 years of college & university experience includes leadership positions at Gonzaga University and the University of South Dakota.

“I’m excited about the additional perspective his contract management experience will bring to our team and our clients,” said Joie Schoonover, principal.   

The first thirteen years of Peterson’s career were spent gaining experience and responsibilities in the hotel, convention center and arena segment, eventually becoming a General Manager of a full-service hotel in Sioux City, Iowa.

Group Casual Square

“Having had the opportunity to professionally grow up in a company such as John Q Hammons Hotels, it really instilled in me the need for standards and how to do things the right way,” said Peterson. “The hotel & convention center business is so customer service-focused. I’ve been able to use that base to ask questions and help raise the bar within dining teams in college foodservice.”

Welcome to the team Darren! We are all excited to have you on board!

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.


Confessions Of A Former Operator After An Amazing Conference


Attending the National Association of College & University Food Services (NACUFS) Conferences are one of the highlights of my year. The passion that the individuals have for their school and their program is always energetic and this year in Nashville was no exception. Occasionally I even miss being in operations when I’m at these conferences hearing about the amazing accomplishments of individuals, such as the newest Minah Award Winner Rich Neumann, or all of the incredible programs on various campuses. The education committee for each conference takes their job very seriously and I always enjoy the various speakers and edu-tainment which they provide. This year, among other professional speakers, 63 individuals from various institutions presented successful programs, information, and ideas on how to make their program better with their peers! Can you even believe it? 63 people just giving away their secrets as to how they were (and weren’t) successful so others can learn and succeed! The amount of information that these individuals share with one another is just amazing!

The items that stood out for me in the sessions I could attend were:

  • The definition of True Collaboration includes the word “PROCESS”
  • For a prospective student, when all other items about a college are equal (program, opportunity, scholarships, etc.), the DINING program can be the deciding factor!
  • I still totally GEEK out at analyzing numbers
  • Reducing food waste is on the mind of many and figuring out WHERE to start can be difficult
  • Being EPIC does not mean you are perfect
  • Including things like TVs, video game consoles and pool tables in a facility with an unlimited all you care to eat meal plan does not mean that there will be an increase in food cost or waste; it does mean is that student engagement INCREASES dramatically!
  • How we think we sound and what the rest of the world hears can be very DIFFERENT

Thank you to all the hardworking committee members of NACUFS for a great conference! In a world of so much negativity, it was a wonderful reminder that there are people who still want to Band Together – Learn together. Work together. Succeed together.

See y’all soon! – Megan