2013 Goldies: Lanier Village Estates, Gainesville, Ga.

Melted bottles engage residents and make food presentation more fun.

Residents enjoying appetizers on slumped bottles.

Dave McTigue, culinary and nutrition director for Lanier Village Estates, is always looking for ways to enhance the image and quality of the dining program at this ACTS Retirement Community—particularly as it pertains to formal dining. (Lanier has a formal dining room, a casual restaurant and a small coffee shop.) His quest often takes him to a variety of culinary events such as wine tastings, and it was at one such tasting that he found the inspiration for the community’s Slumped Bottles program.

“They had a vendor there who had these melted bottles that he had drilled holes into and had hung like wind chimes,” McTigue recalls. “Even though they were hanging, as soon as I saw them I thought, ‘those would make a beautiful wine and cheese type of plate or a salad plate.’

“One of the resident activities at Lanier Village is a glass shop, where people can make items such as stained glass windows to sell,” he adds. “One of our residents—Esther Safford—was working there melting small bottles to make things like spoon holders. I thought that if I got the bottles she could melt them down for me.”

The idea grew into a resident-driven project. McTigue began to collect liquor and wine bottles from residents, and the Slumped Bottles program took shape.

“We’ve experimented with practically every type of bottle you can imagine,” McTigue says. “I particularly like the wine bottles. The 1.5-liter bottles are probably the best size, but the 750s work as well. You have all different colors—green, clear, blue—and you have different shapes. We’ve found that the clear bottles are the least attractive. When [the plates] have a color to them it provides a much better background and makes the items on the glass show up a bit better.”

But wine bottles aren’t the only things McTigue has found useful. “We’ve taken the larger Jack Daniel’s bottles, the ones that have a little hook on the handle, and that gives us a different look. Those Grey Goose bottles, they’ve got some etched glass on the back of the bottle—usually a mountain range or a bird that the artist puts on them. When you melt them down it gives kind of a 3-D effect.”

Lanier Village executives estimate that the Slumped Bottles program saves about 330 pounds of glass from the landfill per year, which isn’t bad considering that it wasn’t the original intent of the concept.

“We didn’t start out saying we’re going to save or help the environment,” says McTigue. “We were really focused on the culinary side, wanting to know what we could do to make our restaurant a little more unique or give us something new to showcase. But because it developed that way and the residents became a part of the process, everybody wins, no matter how you look at it.” 

Program Highlights

Lanier Village Estates’ Slumped Bottles program represents the gold standard for non-commercial foodservice because:

• It is a collaborative effort between staff and residents

• It has heightened the image of the dining program, created excitement on the part of residents and drawn more business

• It is an innovative way to protect the environment through recycling, while also saving costs on the purchase of servingware such as cheese and salad plates.

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
frozen raspberries

“As a chef, I pretty much have grown up through the business thinking that fresh was always better—produce, fish and meats, especially,” says Ryan Conklin, executive chef for UNC Rex Healthcare’s culinary and nutrition services. “But the more ‘re-educated’ I get, the more I’m learning that some frozen options may be more appropriate for me to be using on my menus.”

Right now, the perception of frozen foods doesn’t match the reality, especially for high-volume foodservice operators, says Conklin. Often, chefs and operators picture not-great product that’s been sitting in a block of...

Sponsored Content
Roasted Beet Salad Pickled Blueberries
From Blueberry Council.

What’s trending in the culinary world? The basics! According to the NRA, diners today are craving authenticity, simplicity and freshness on menus. But basic ingredients don’t have to lead to boring menu options.

It’s easy to fall into the latest craze to capture consumer attention and drive sales. But we’ve learned it’s not always about novelty. Instilling a feeling of nostalgia and familiarity by using well-known and well-loved ingredients in new, experimental dishes can lead to an increase in adventurous dining decisions, while staying in your customers’...

Managing Your Business
umass amherst food

Restaurateurs in Amherst, Mass., aren’t happy with UMass Dining .

Registered dietitian Dianne Sutherland told local NBC affiliate WWLP News in May that the high quality of food served on campus means students aren’t visiting neighborhood eateries as frequently as those businesses might like.

“Even our vendors who we work with, they get complaints from the restaurants that students are staying on campus,” she said. “They are already paying for the food; why should they [go] off campus to eat?” More than 19,000 Amherst students are on a meal plan—6,000 of whom live off campus...

Ideas and Innovation
lettuce eat dining

Forced to battle crumbling infrastructure and a constant churn of trends, sometimes the best way to save a foodservice operation is to change it entirely. As Steve Mangan, director of dining at the University of Michigan, puts it, “At some point when your building starts to fail, the cost of maintenance stands out.” But for operators with limited budgets, the challenge is discerning the right time to do so—and how far to take it.

At Jefferson High School, change came because little worked anymore. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, school’s cafeteria hadn’t been updated since 1957; students...

FSD Resources