image of chef handing out food to a customer

Property Spotlight: NIH-Fisher’s Lane Café 5601

Located in Rockville, Maryland, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is one of the many sectors of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. While the NIH-NIAID strives to learn more ways of enhancing our lives, the NIH-Fisher’s Lane Café 5601 team members work hard to ensure they have the best meal or snacks throughout their workday or conferences.

NIH-Fisher’s Lane Café 5601 serves breakfast and lunch to over 1,000 people daily as well as hosts conferences for many international NIH clients from Japan, Europe, China, and more. Joel Cabezas, General Manager of the Café 5601, and his team offer full-service catering.

Daily customers to the NIH-Fisher’s Lane Café 5601 consist of employees within the NIH-NIAID building as well as from the other sectors within the National Institutes of Health including the National Cancer Institute, Human and Health Services (HHS), Food and Drug Administrate (FDA). Joel says there is great participation in the café from the “outside.”

“We have a website,, in addition to our Facebook and Twitter accounts so everyone can see the menu for the upcoming week,” says Joel. “We have weekly and monthly promotions; our guests know when their favorites are being served each day.”

In the past, NIH-Fisher’s Lane Café 5601 had special promotions like “Bring Your Child to Work Day,” American barbeques, and summer picnics. Each season welcomes a new menu with corresponding dish options for the weather, holidays, and guest favorites.

“As part of our culinary career, we always want to give our guests the foods they crave,” says Joel, “including fresh salads for the summer or delicious warm soups during the winter.”

Even with a constantly-evolving menu, guests still gravitate towards their favorite meals and food types such as Latin, Italian, and more. Guests’ number one desired meal is a Peruvian-Style Lomo Saltado – stir fry dish with marinated sirloin strips, red onion, and tomatoes, served with French fries and rice.

“We have it twice a month and, at least, 120 orders come in for it each time; it is a great finance push,” says Joel. “It is a way of satisfying our guests as well as meeting our goals.”

Another favorite at the NIH-Fisher’s Lane Café 5601 is Tex-Mex Chicken Chilaquiles, which comes in various forms each time it is served every other Friday. Having a set food schedule is greatly appreciated by in-house customer and visitors, but the 13 GSI team members thoroughly enjoy getting recommendations for future dishes.

“If a customer wants to give the staff suggestions of what should be showcased in the café next, the on-site comment cards and social media pages allow for that,” says Joel. “In my eyes, these comments are new opportunities for business. If someone makes a suggestion for a delicious and affordable meal, and we create it, they are going to invite their friends to try out their suggestion at the café.”

Joel says that when people come to visit, they always have the same message that each team member’s smiles are so sincere when they are serving their guests.

“The first thing I look for in my team members is their natural smile,” comments Joel. “If they have an inviting, friendly smile, I can train them on the logistical side of being a part of a successful café. Customers appreciate natural smiles.”

Joel and his team even know the “regulars” by name when they come to visit the NIH-Fisher’s Lane Café 5601. If you are interested in seeing the friendly faces at Café 5601 at the NIH-NIAID or trying any of their fan-favorite meals, please contact Joel at, and he will add you to the guest list at the Visitor’s Center. Breakfast: 7-10:30 am; donuts and pastries: 10:30-11:30 am; lunch: 11:30 am -2 pm; light snacks: 2-3 pm. The Coffee Bar is open from 7 am – 4 pm.

Thank you to Joel and the rest of the GSI team members for serving amazing food and upholding the Guest Services’ legendary hospitality standard.

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