UIHC switches Java House to Bread Garden

UIHC has decided to replace their four Java House locations with Bread Garden when the Java House contract ends.


Sid Peterson

The exterior of Bread Garden Market in downtown Iowa City is seen on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. The Java Houses in University of Iowa will soon all be replaced by Bread Gardens.

Kit Fitzgerald, News Reporter

After an open bidding, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics will switch from Java House to Bread Garden in its four locations starting Nov 1.

After a 14-year partnership, UIHC officials decided to hold a competitive bid after examining its contract with Java House.

A competitive bid is open to the public. In this case, seven companies bid for the locations in the General Hospital, Carver Pavilion, Pomerantz Family Pavilion, and Stead Children’s Hospital.

Java House Chief of Retail Operations Angela Winnike said there was little indication that UIHC was thinking of changing companies. Fifteen months ago, the hospital administration asked Java House to open its fourth location in the Children’s Hospital, a project for which Java House is still paying off loans.

“To say that we were shocked would be an understatement,” Winnike said.

Tom Moore, the media relations director for UI Health Care, said the decision to hold the competitive bid was not prompted by any particular issue with Java House; rather, it was an opportunity for UIHC to possibly find a more beneficial arrangement for patrons, visitors, and staff.

Along with the vision for an expansion of food products, Bread Garden’s bid offered a higher percent of revenue share to UIHC. Java House’s contract specified 15 percent of revenue share for gross sales revenue up to $1 million. Bread Garden offered 18 percent revenue share for gross sales revenue up to $1 million.

Christian Prochaska, a member of Bread Garden management, said the percentage was included in Bread Garden’s original bid, decided on by evaluating the approximate number of customers at the four locations.

Moore said earning a higher revenue share was not the goal of UIHC, nor was it the reason Bread Garden earned the bid.

“Whenever you enter into a competitive-bid process, you are looking for the best possible deal on behalf of your patients, visitors, and staff,” Moore said. “This was not something that was a major factor, but it certainly was one of the factors.”

A lot of people feel like their voices weren’t heard. Not only our staff or company but people who work for UIHC.

— Angela Winnike

Moore said the review committee chose Bread Garden because the bid provided expansion of the menu options, including vegan and gluten-free items, as well as its history and reputation for quality service.

There have been miscommunications while announcing this change. Winnike said UIHC announced Bread Garden as the bid winner before telling Java House, even though Java House officials were told they would be alerted first.

Several days after learning they didn’t win the bid, Java House posted it would not return to the four locations. Moore said UIHC had not had opportunity to communicate the change to its own faculty and staff.

Java House’s Facebook post provoked online backlash from clients. Winnike said especially in these locations, Java House staff was able to get to know their customers and create relationships. Now, many of these staff members might be out of a job.

Prochaska said Bread Garden is encouraging some of those Java House employees to work for Bread Garden.

“We understand that staff at the hospital want to see familiar faces, and we’d like to continue that.” Kristen said. “We are aiming for a seamless transition for everyone.”

Winnike hopes to maintain a positive relationship with UIHC despite the outcome for Java House, but she appreciates the loyalty and support from Java House customers.

“A lot of people feel like their voices weren’t heard,” Winnike said. “Not only our staff or company but people who work for UIHC.”

Editor’s note (9/13/2018): a previous version of this article incorrectly spelled the name of Christian Prochaska, a member of Bread Garden management. It has been corrected. The DI regrets this error.