Tap into diners’ talents for dining room decor

artistic doors

When Bill Fugate, a resident at Lutheran SeniorLife Passavant Community in Zelienople, Penn., saw the design plans for a new building, one detail immediately caught his eye: The big double doors decorated with ironwork that lead into the dining room.

Having picked up blacksmithing as a hobby about 25 years ago, Fugate continued to do ironwork while living at Passavant. “They knew I had a shop here on the back end of campus, so they asked me if I wanted to it,” Fugate says. He recruited an on-staff nurse to sketch the ironwork designs for the door, as well as sconces in nature-inspired shapes such as tree branches and flowers. Some supplies were provided, but both volunteered their time.

From colorful crayon drawings to whimsical murals, artwork created by students can be found decorating K-12 cafeterias all across the country. Other operations are starting to follow suit, making the most of the artistic talents of diners sitting right there at the table.

Giving residents the opportunity to exercise their talents can be rewarding. “My wife and I have been a very active part of this community since we’ve come here, and I just thought it was a good opportunity to make a contribution that would be worthwhile and would be pleasing to other people,” Fugate says.

Though having a professional artist in your midst is a boon, diners don’t have to be professionally trained in order to play a part. At the Village at Summerville in Summerville, S.C., residents worked together to create a mosaic of a palm tree that hangs on the dining room wall. “That brings the outside in, because of course, we have the palmetto trees in this area,” says Steve Scranton, director of dining services. Quilts made by residents also hang on the walls of the memory care and skilled nursing dining rooms. “It gives it more of a homey feel,” Scranton says.

Because the community’s life enrichment department heads up activities—including quilting and mosaic-making—close coordination between departments is crucial to make these kinds of collaborations work, says Scranton. Bringing up the idea for discussion well in advance is the best way to set up for success, he says. “It’s best to do it toward the end of the year, November or December; when [activities departments] start putting their calendar together for the next year, schedule a meeting,” Scranton says. “It’s all in the planning and the team effort.”  

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development

Loyola University Maryland took a new approach to all-day breakfast with an egg-focused concept.

Breakfast options were top of mind for students when asked what they would like to see on the menu at the university’s revamped Boulder Garden Cafe. Instead of creating an all-day breakfast station, however, the Baltimore-based dining team went beyond traditional options and created a concept that services all mealparts with eggs.

“It can be somewhat mundane,” says Executive Chef Don Crowther on why the team strayed away from the trendy all-day breakfast. At the eatery’s Sunny...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Kansas has added a retail pass that allows students to purchase one to-go combo meal per day at cafes and markets on campus, the University Daily Kansan reports.

The pass is available on two different meal plans and is geared toward on-the-go students who don’t have the time to sit down and eat at a residence hall.

“It has increased the participation rate,” Jamie Reed, a service assistant for the school’s dining services, told the University Daily Kansan.

Over 1,800 students have used the pass since its debut at the beginning of the semester....

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Minnesota dining team has created a vegan student group in an effort to improve the school’s vegan offerings, Minnesota Daily reports.

The group was created by the school’s foodservice vendor, Aramark, and its campus sustainability coordinator, who is vegan, after receiving numerous complaints from students about the lack of vegan options on campus.

The group will this week host its first meeting, during which members will be able to share feedback and provide solutions to help enhance the school’s vegan offerings. Members will also keep a photo journal...

Industry News & Opinion

Panera Bread Co. announced today that it intends to buy the Au Bon Pain brand as a way of opening more bakery-cafes in colleges, healthcare facilities, office buildings, travel centers and malls.

Au Bon Pain, which was Panera’s sole business under an earlier incarnation of the company, consists of 304 bakery-cafes. Several units are located in noncommercial venues.

Panera owns or holds the franchise rights to about 2,050 restaurants, few of which are located outside of strip malls.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Immediately after the deal was...

FSD Resources