Larry Bates: Service-Oriented

At Riddle Village, Larry Bates ensures his residents have variety, flexibility in their program.

Accomplishments

LARRY BATES has upgraded foodservice at RIDDLE VILLAGE by:

  • Fostering a team atmosphere where managers have the freedom to be creative
  • Adding dining venues and amenities to prevent resident boredom
  • Implementing the flex dining program, where residents have a certain dollar amount to spend each month
  • Increasing menu options and adding upscale items  

Having the right person in a leadership position makes all the difference, according to Gloria Tursi, assistant dining director for 500-resident Riddle Village. “With the wrong person here—and we’ve had them—there’s no sparkle, no wow,” Tursi says. She is quick to point out that the right person—Larry Bates—is now at the helm at this retirement community in Media, Pa.

During the past seven years, the management team at Riddle Village, under the leadership of Bates, director of dining services, has evolved into a cohesive unit. “Larry isn’t on top of me or the management team,” Tursi adds. “He lets us flow. He asks for everyone’s input. It makes us feel that he appreciates our thoughts. It makes everyone happy that he’s not a one-man show. We’ve had many directors so it’s easy to see that, because there are some managers who don’t even entertain the idea that you have a thought. It’s all their thoughts.”

For his part, Bates knows the department can’t be successful unless there’s a team effort. “In reality the culinary team are the ones who make it happen,” he says.

Creating that collaborative management team has enabled the foodservice department at Riddle Village to implement a host of changes in the past couple of years.

Adding options: Bates has been in foodservice since the age of 14, when he “realized he could make more money washing dishes than throwing newspapers.” The first part of his culinary career was spent working in hotels, restaurants and country clubs. After enduring the long hours of a chef in the commercial scene, Bates moved to healthcare foodservice in 1995. In 2005 he joined Riddle Village.

“When you go to a restaurant it is the way it is, but next week you can choose to go somewhere else,” Bates says, adding that his residents don’t have that option. “We want to keep [our operation] fresh and new. We try to reinvent the wheel for them.”

To combat resident dining boredom, Bates and his team have created multiple dining venues and programs.

Instead of one main dining room, Riddle Village has two dining rooms, a buffet service, café and lounge. The second dining room opened in 2009 to give residents another dining venue.

The Garden Terrace Café is open for lunch Monday through Saturday, dinner on Sunday and breakfast on Wednesday and Friday. Bates says the menu at the café is similar to what you would find at any diner. Seating is available and some grab-and-go items are offered. Breakfast is a new service at the café. Bates admits that not many residents take advantage of the breakfast option, but his philosophy is to offer the residents the greatest number of dining choices possible.

“For us it’s about serving the residents and them enjoying the program,” Bates says. “We look at [adding these programs] as an improvement of service, and that improvement in service helps market the facility. By marketing the facility through the services you increase your occupancy.”

The lounge, called the Thoroughbred Club, was added four years ago as another way to increase service. The lounge is open between 3 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The management team conceived the lounge as a place where residents could grab a drink before dinner or while they were waiting to be seated at the Governor’s Inn, Riddle Village’s formal dining room. The lounge offers a full bar, as well as appetizers. Bates says that the lounge has two waves of customers, one before dinner and one after. He adds that because most of the lounge’s customers are regulars, Bates’ team decided to add some boredom-beating variety to the lounge’s menu. A four-week cycle of appetizers was developed by Tursi, and now residents “have something to look forward to, especially the regulars,” she says.

Riddle Village has an extensive program of special meals. For example, a large brunch is served the second Sunday of every month. Every fourth Monday Bates offers a special lunch buffet. Instead of being served in the informal dining room where the buffet is normally available, the buffet is served in the Governor’s Inn. This change of venue is important to keep things different for residents, Bates says. Every Friday between Memorial Day and Labor Day the team holds a cookout for lunch. Hamburgers, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese and ribs are some of the items offered.

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
chili flakes and peppers spicy hot

From Catallia.

When planning your menus, take note: college and university students think spicy is hot.

Fifty-seven percent of consumers age 18-34 find spicy flavors, “extremely appealing,” according to Technomic. And almost 50% of college students surveyed said they would like their schools to offer more ethnic foods and beverages, states a recent Technomic College & University Consumer Trend Report. Translation: they like their food kicked up a notch!

More Options than Ever

“Students of today are all about flavor,” says Steve Mangan, director of dining for...

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo is partnering with celebrity chef Robert Irvine in an attempt to provide military communities with healthier meals.

The 10-year partnership will allow Sodexo to access chef Irvine’s knowledge of nutrition and fitness in its aim to benefit the quality of life for military members, the vendor said in a news release.

Sodexo hopes that Irvine’s popularity as the host of Food Network’s "Restaurant: Impossible" will draw attention to its commitment to nutrition, health and well being. Irvine also has a military history himself—before embarking on his culinary career, he...

Industry News & Opinion

The cafeteria at the Smithsonian's new National Museum for African American History and Culture is intended to be an extension of the museum, showcasing stations that offer cuisines from different geographic locations such as the Creole coast and agricultural South, Time reports .

The eatery, Sweet Home Cafe, was set up to highlight the wide range of African-American cuisine, Executive Chef Jerome Grant told Time. When it officially opens later this month, it will serve dishes such as shrimp and grits, pan-roasted oysters and a fried catfish po’boy.

Celebrity chef Carla...

Sponsored Content
Pierce boneless wings

From Pierce Chicken.

Spicy chicken wings have taken off as an iconic American food since their debut at the Anchor Bar Restaurant in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1964. They reached a new milestone during Super Bowl 50 weekend in February, when more than 1.3 billion wings were consumed, according to the National Chicken Council.

The emergence of boneless wings—breaded, boneless chunks of chicken breast with zesty flavors—has made a good thing even better. In fact, research shows that boneless wings complement traditional bone-in wings on restaurant menus, boosting the entire wing...

FSD Resources