Two respiratory therapists stood in white coats with stethoscopes draped around shoulders watching the big crowd fill into the new restaurant on the main floor of Regional Health Rapid City Hospital on Tuesday morning, eating apple crisp.

"We're not calling it a 'cafeteria" anymore," said Michael Davis, standing next to his self-described "work wife," Amanda Leland. 

"It's a restaurant," Leland said. "And, yes, we're excited."

The new dining facility at Regional Health, which had a grand unveiling Tuesday, received more than a face-lift with new menu items, new cooking facilities and new curb appeal. There's also a new name, and more than 150 people, gathered for the ribbon-cutting, including many caregivers, hospital administrators, officials from support specialists Compass One Healthcare, and even the head caterer in a white, floppy hat, affectionately called "Chef Scott." 

"This should give you goose bumps," said Scott Brinker, detailing to the gathered crowd the varied options, including a new BBQ smoker and locally-sourced produce and meats. "It's the same old stuff, only better."

Roughly 1,500 people daily come through the dining facility, which runs from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Many more meals are packaged and sent to patients. Describing the old cafeteria as "right out of the 1950s," Brinker said he's happy with the new ambiance. 

"It's brighter, lighter, more welcoming area," said David Ellenbecker, director of plant operations for Regional Health.

The name for the new restaurant — Nourish — came from one of more than 70 suggestions submitted by employees. The name's author, JoAnn Mikkelsen, is a med-lab technician.

"I think the name encompasses what we do here at Regional. We try to treat the body as well as the whole person," said Mikkelsen.

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Contact Christopher Vondracek at Christopher.Vondracek@rapidcityjournal.com.

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