St. Jude, Sterling Open ‘Kay Kafe’

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Sterling Jewelers Inc., on Thursday celebrated the opening of the latest addition to the hospital’s campus: The Kay Kafe.

The newly designed and expanded cafeteria will offer families at the Memphis, Tenn.-based hospital a variety of menu choices in a playful, relaxed setting.

“When my father founded St. Jude, he envisioned a place of hope and comfort under one roof for children and their families,” said Marlo Thomas, national outreach director of St. Jude. “Kay Kafe perfectly captures his spirit and compassion and dedication to providing the best possible care to the precious children who come through the doors of St. Jude every day. We are so grateful to everyone at Sterling and Kay Jewelers, and to Roger Ferris + Partners, for their roles in creating this place of nourishment, comfort and care.”

St. Jude founder Danny Thomas dreamed of having just one cafeteria at St. Jude, a place that would foster a sense of family and provide a daily reminder to the faculty and staff of the importance of their work. For more than 45 years, the cafeteria at St. Jude has accomplished that. Now, thanks to the generosity of long-time partner Sterling Jewelers Inc., a new chapter has been added to Thomas’ dream.

Sterling Jewelers has been raising funds for St. Jude since 1999 and is one of the hospital’s most loyal corporate partners. Endowments and naming opportunities made possible by Sterling Jewelers over the past nine years include the Solid Tumor Clinic, Patient Registration Area, and Second Floor Lobby. This partnership has culminated in Sterling’s commitment to raise $16 million for the Kay Kafe.

“The kids of St. Jude mean so much to us, and we are thrilled to be part of helping the hospital fulfill its mission,” said Terry Burman, chairman, Sterling Jewelers Inc., and member of the ALSAC/St. Jude Boards of Directors & Governors. “As part of the St. Jude family for many years, Sterling Jewelers Inc. dedicates the Kay Kafe to Danny’s vision. Special thanks to the many Sterling team members whose support helped enable the transformation of the Kay Kafe, and to our generous customers who donated the funds to make it possible. We hope the Kafe will add a new chapter to Danny’s dream.”

Designed by the Roger Ferris + Partners architecture and design firm, the new Kay Kafe significantly enhances the hospital’s food service capabilities. An expanded kitchen allows for a separate food preparation area for inpatient meals, thereby further enhancing infection control. In addition, the expansion enables the hospital to dedicate additional space and staff to the preparation of more meals that are individualized to patients, which dovetails with needs associated with the hospital’s diverse population of diets and cultures while also helping ensure that patients who may have difficulty eating due to treatment side-effects find palatable food options. 

The Kay Kafe dining area holds approximately 500 people, serving up to 1,000 during a busy lunch hour. Like other patient care buildings on the St. Jude campus, the Kay Kafe has a child-friendly design that includes lower counters so that patients can interact face-to-face with staff. Original by Rob Pruitt and Will Cotton appears in the Kay Kafe, installed by New York based RxArt, a non-profit organization that curates site-specific projects and installs museum quality original fine art in healthcare facilities.