Families visiting the recently-opened Kennedy Outpatient Center at Erlanger Children’s Hospital will soon be able to experience the facility’s newest dining option: Choo Choo Cafe. With a name inspired by Steam Engine 349, a restored 19th century locomotive situated at the entrance of the center, Choo Choo Cafe will serve breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning on Monday.
Procured by hospital officials from the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, the goal of Steam Engine 349 is to help children feel less anxious when arriving for treatment. Choo Choo Cafe shares that mission, offering a welcoming, comfortable environment and tasty food for patients, families, and Erlanger employees to enjoy.
The cafe will offer made-to-order sandwiches and wraps for breakfast and lunch, bagels, gourmet soups, an interactive frozen yogurt machine, and grab-and-go options. It will also feature a coffee, tea, and soda bar as well as a kids’ menu. Customers can order ahead online or via a fast lane kiosk to keep service at a speedy clip. Another bonus when the weather warms up: Choo Choo Cafe will be the only restaurant in the vicinity with outdoor seating.
Making its debut at Choo Choo Cafe is Tennessee’s first and only Sally the Robot, which will offer customizable salads and grain bowls to customers via touchscreen interface. Created by Silicon Valley-based food robotics company Chowbotics, Sally offers thousands of custom meal and snack options from any combination of up to 22 ingredients, in addition to chef-crafted, pre-programmed bowls. Sally’s proprietary technology also reduces the risk of foodborne illness, as ingredients are kept sanitary and separate. Each of Sally’s ingredients is replenished on a regular basis and contained within the robot, greatly reducing the potential for contamination.
“Sally is an ideal alternative to a salad bar, especially in and around higher-risk facilities such as hospitals,” said Dr. Deepak Sekar, founder and CEO of Chowbotics.
Choo Choo Cafe will donate $1 from every Sally meal sold through the end of the year to Erlanger Children’s Hospital, through the Believe Campaign.
Josh Patton, owner, said, “We are thrilled to be part of the region’s only children’s hospital, providing nourishment to those who need it most. In addition to our fresh, tasty menu, we pride ourselves on offering exceptional and quick service in a warm, friendly environment.”