RetComLife #17 – Other Choices In Food Services

One thing that annoys me is that the sit-down dining option which is basically the only option aside from after the meal carry-outs in my retirement community wastes too much of my time. Having a full-service sit down dining is nice once in a while in that special restaurant, but you wouldn’t appreciate it for every meal you eat.

I know many think we retirement community residents have nothing but time, so what’s the big deal. But if the retirement community is doing its job you have more options for your time now than have actual time to fill them. That twenty or thirty minutes it takes ordering and waiting for each meal to arrive is valuable for me. I want other, less time-consuming options, for my daily food intake. It would be great if my retirement community had a food court like the mall about a mile away. But that just wouldn’t be economically feasible, or would it? Let’s get on to some other options.

For this post, I want to give you a link to an excellent article on the topic. It is entitled 5 Trends in Senior Living Foodservice. Click HERE to read the entire article. Instead of rehashing the words, I am selected quotes from the article.

Multiple Dining Venues

“The biggest trend we’ve seen over the past decade is a move to provide a variety of dining venues,” … “In the old days, the typical facility would have one big, barn-like dining room, which, more often than not, was just called ‘the main dining room.’ Everyone would show up at 5:05p.m. and eat from a set menu with limited choices.

In contrast, modern facilities, whether new builds or remodels, typically now include at least three main types of venues: full-service/fine dining, fast-casual bistro and pub. Marketplaces with a variety of action stations and coffee bars are also hitting the senior dining segment in a big way, giving residents foodservice choices that mirror those they’re used to frequenting in the broader foodservice industry.

“All new-builds do this now, but even older facilities with the traditional one main dining room are breaking that down,” Ader says. “They’re converting those big rooms into multiple venues. They’re putting the kitchen in the middle and keeping it open, and creating different dining experiences around it, from fast casual to full service. If they can’t do that, they’re at least creating different experiences at each meal period.

Coming back to my comments, size of course has a something to do with how many dining options are available. Retirement communities are expensive, ranging from $1,500 to $6,000 per month. My retirement community is right in the middle of that range. How much can they afford to change their dining options? Or maybe the real question is how much will the competition force them to change. I think my community is up to leading this paradigm shift, or I wouldn’t be living here. If they are not, maybe I won’t be here as long as I think.

Next week I will be covering how technology is changing the dining services across most retirement communities and giving us Baby Boomers, who will soon be flooding retirement communities, more options that we demand. The sooner existing communities jump the more likely they will survive the coming times.