The Tom Colicchio Restaurant Chain You Might Start Seeing In Hospitals

If you've ever had the misfortune of a long stay in the hospital, you know that health problems aren't the only difficulties one faces within the sanitized walls. Hospital food is a whole other unfortunate situation to endure. Over the years, these medical facilities have had to contend with criticism of the food they serve patients and visitors, with accusations that the vendors the hospitals contract with are anything but healthy, especially for healing bodies and those who practice good health.

According to The Hospitalist, studies of hospital food have shown that the cuisine served in all 50 states features dishes high in fat, cholesterol, sugar, and sodium. This is a problem not only for patients, but also for the doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff that have little choice but to eat these food choices during their shifts — especially if their schedule is too busy to allow more options off-site.

Tom Colicchio wants to change that. The culinary whiz and "Top Chef" judge hopes to improve the quality and nutrition of hospital food with his new endeavor Root & Sprig, a restaurant chain whose first location opened last week at the Children's National Research and Innovation Campus in Washington, D.C. (via The Washington Post).

Root & Sprig offers healthy fast-casual food for hospital patients, staff, and guests

According to The Washington Post, chef Tom Colicchio was brought into the world of hospital dining by former employee Cory Sullivan, who headed staff at Colicchio's New York restaurant group Crafted Hospitality. Sullivan is now chief operating officer at Health Hospitality Partners, which brings restaurants into hospitals, like Colicchio's Root & Sprig. This new venture will offer fast-casual dishes such as sandwiches, salads, and soups, with plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options to appeal to a wide variety of eaters.

"You have healthcare workers who just don't have healthy options in the hospital," Colicchio told the paper of his decision to move forward with the venture.

As noted by The Takeout, Root & Sprig won't actually be the food service provider for the hospitals in which it opens, which are expected to number around 20, meaning it won't provide meals for all the rooms. Rather, it will be a point of sale vendor for hospital workers, and, of course, any visitors that want to eat in the hospital or bring food to patients' rooms. 

And it could be a win-win for all involved. Not only by providing healthy food for hospital staff and guests, but also filling in some of the gaps of lost revenue in the traditional fast-casual field, which, The Washington Post notes, dropped more than $5 billion from 2019 to 2020.