Brad Lange: A New Comfort Level

After a move West, Brad Lange has settled in and made his mark at Park Regency retirement community.

Accomplishments

BRAD LANGE has revitalized the foodservice at PARK REGENCY by:

  • GAINING the respect and trust of his staff, which has increased staff satisfaction
  • RETRAINING cooks to cater to the seniors' dining preferences
  • INCREASING resident satisfaction through weekly Menu Chats and making himself visible in the dining room
  • STARTING an all-day dining program and increasing the menu mix
  • CONSOLIDATING to one standard menu, which has improved consistency and lowered costs

Like a lot of teenagers, Brad Lange took a job working in a restaurant as a dishwasher. After a stint in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, Lange found himself without a paycheck. “I couldn’t get a job, so I got back in the kitchen,” he says. “I didn’t think I would be going back in the kitchen again. Then I went to culinary school. I tried my hand in just about everything [hospitals and hotels, mostly in New York City]. I feel comfortable where I am.”

That place is 220-resident Park Regency, a retirement community in Chandler, Ariz. Park Regency is part of Brookdale Senior Living, which operates more than 550 assisted living and retirement communities throughout the country. Lange has been the director of dining services for the past eight months. “I’m loving it out here,” he says. “I’ve been out here since ’96. It’s a lot easier than working in New York City. I had my windows shot out when I worked in the city, so I said, ‘I’ve got to get out of here.’”

Lange’s comfort at Park Regency has spread to his staff as well. Executive Chef Jacinda Shipe has been with the community for five years, and she says that since Lange’s arrival employee satisfaction has increased. “In the kitchen the employees have become a happier crew and less stressed,” she says. “Brad is very hands-on and he’s in the mix. He’s easy to approach when we have problems. He doesn’t mind getting in and helping us out. He makes it possible to enjoy the work that we do. He inspires us to do the best that we can.”

Retraining: Lange knew he wanted to make changes to the community’s menus, but first he had to retrain his staff to cater to the senior’s dining preferences. “When you’re dealing with senior citizens, if it tastes good, but it’s not tender they’re not going to eat it,” he says. “Dealing with seniors, they know what they want. A lot of our residents are from New York, so you know how they are. They expect to get what they paid for, no if, ands or buts. My predecessor here was always in his office. I had to retrain all the cooks in the way I felt it should be done.”

Lange says most of the retraining was done informally by working alongside his kitchen staff to show them how he wanted items prepared. “First you have to gain [the staff’s] respect and show them that you really know what you are talking about,” he says. “I did that by getting in there and digging in. If someone went on vacation I would cover his/her shift. Treat them with respect and things fall into place.”

“He trains by example,” Shipe says. “When he sees something that he figures he can improve, he gets in there. He’s brought a whole new element into our kitchen. He’s allowed us to do more high-end things than what we were doing before. He’s raised the bar for us. He’s made [the staff] eager to learn things. He’s told them that the food they put out is a reflection of them and they need to be proud of what they put out.”

Face time: The staff aren’t the only ones who are happier since Lange’s arrival. Resident satisfaction also has increased. Shipe attributes that change to what she says is Lange’s greatest trait: listening. “The residents love him because he will go out [in the dining room], interact with them and talk with them. He has told them that if at any point they need to see him or talk to him, his door is always open.”

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Food delivery company Good Uncle is expanding to 15 college campuses this fall, The Daily Orange reports.

The company plans to grow along the East Coast and is looking at opening at schools such as George Washington University, Pennsylvania State University, Villanova University and American University. Good Uncle hopes to open at 50 to 100 campuses by 2019.

Starting as a delivery-only kitchen in 2016, Good Uncle partners with local restaurants to recreate their popular dishes and then deliver them to college students. The company offers free delivery, no delivery minimum...

Ideas and Innovation
wahoo tacos

School lunch is heating up. As expectations rise in the noncommercial sector, the old-fashioned cafeteria has become a hot topic. Political pressure on schools has seesawed over the past eight years, and nutritional regulations on items like sodium and whole grains have been overhauled (and back again). Meanwhile, students, parents, teachers, administrators and policymakers are demanding more healthfulness and better taste from school meals, often for the same cost.

Yet the industry’s best are dedicated to getting better, even while looking to the future with caution. “There’s not...

Sponsored Content
WinCup product

From WinCup ® .

The shape of hospitality is always changing—and challenging. Take the boom in off-premise and takeout, for example, that is expanding foodservice beyond the four walls of the dining room. That trend is driving both commercial and noncommercial operators to rethink their packaging needs—from a practical operational standpoint as well as when it comes to addressing consumers’ needs and desires.

Take it away

The tide of takeout is rising: 49% of 18- to 34-year olds say they are ordering food to-go more often now than they were three years ago, with 36% saying...

Industry News & Opinion

The dining team at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., is concerned about the school’s upcoming switch to a new food vendor this fall, the Daily Northwestern reports.

While Northwestern says that its new vendor, Compass, will invite staff to join the company and dining employees will receive the same pay, benefits and seniority they have in their current arrangement, workers are still worried about the change.

Staff say that the university did not keep them informed while searching for a new vendor and that they learned about new developments through students and...

FSD Resources