Are you in the mood for a nice steak dinner in a formal atmosphere one night and a casual Italian meal another? What about a quality buffet style brunch, or just an intimate meal with close friends? A major shift in the Senior Living market, influenced by the diverse tastes of the Baby Boomers, is toward facilities with multi point venues for dining. Between a desired lifestyle of the residents and many marketing advantages, we don’t see this trend going away any time soon. The culinary program has become the primary focus for many facilities, with investments in the program through great venues and top-notch chefs.
There are definite challenges to this strategy related to space needs, staff efficiency, food management, and overall cost. But great design and planning can overcome those challenges to provide the experiences residents desire. Flexibility is another attribute to success, providing the ability to either change a venue’s use throughout a day or quickly adapt to special events.
One example is Shorehaven Catered Living in Oconomowoc, WI. This recently complete independent living facility has a formal dining room with private break out spaces, a lively pub for evening drinks with live entertainment, and a café for the casual afternoon coffee with a friend. PRA collaborated with the food service staff and consultants to bring forward a premier concept and design.
At Hardwood Place Senior Living Community in Wauwatosa, WI, PRA renovated an underutilized area of the building to incorporate an open concept pub and lounge that’s been a hit with the residents.
Bethany Home in Waupaca, WI also went the route of introducing multi venue dining in their recent renovations, which included a new café with its own wood stone oven. The facility success was recently recognized nationally with the Foodservice Department of the Year Award from the Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals.
Demonstration Kitchens are another attribute seen in senior living environments. Sometimes tied with Wellness programs, these venues give residents the ability to expand and grow their cooking skills.
As my grandmother used to say “the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach.”