A senior living community gets a holistic makeover

Kelsey Nash, Digital Editor

demo kitchen

Josh Eggeman thought he was coming to Waupaca, Wis.-based Bethany in 2011 with one mission: to change the culture of the senior living center’s dining team. And while transforming what he calls “your standard cafeteria-style nursing home foodservice department” to one with more of a hospitality focus was no short order, that ask was complicated when a large-scale renovation became part of his purview.

As that initial culture shift was getting underway, Bethany also began eyeing a $25 million expansion project to both change the layout of its existing facility and add a new building. Blueprints were finalized in summer 2015, and “[we’ve] been in construction ever since,” says Eggeman, who started as a consultant and came on full time as Bethany’s director of food and beverage in 2012.

Throughout the process, the department has seen a complete transformation, with team members who now embody positivity and teamwork, he says, and who have also become close with residents and guests. Here’s how.

1. Trading spaces

pines guest room

The expansion brought about renovations to the functionality of the entire foodservice department. Before Eggeman came on board, there was only one option when it came to dining—a “big full meal with dessert,” he says. Bethany’s traditional dining room was converted into a full-service restaurant prior to the major overhaul, and later, with the help of Plunkett Raysich Architects and Stewart Design Associates, its main kitchen was redone and several new eateries were put into place. (The expansion effort was broken up into three phases, the last of which, as of publication time, was slated to wrap up by the end of 2017.)

“Our CEO and board of directors put a lot of faith in me and really let me run wild and reinvent our dining program from a hospitality perspective,” says Eggeman, who developed the concepts with help from his dining team.

2. Appealing to all

before shot

Bethany’s mealtimes underwent a similar shift toward decentralization. In the past, residents were often out of luck if they missed a mealtime, Eggeman says, but with staggered operating hours—Fireside Grill is open “all day, every day,” and Bleu Barn from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.—diners can grab a bite at their convenience.

The addition of cash registers has aided that transformation, as outside guests and staff dining at Bethany aren’t dependent on a receptionist at the front desk to give them a meal ticket, Eggeman says. All told, Bethany’s dining team serves up to 500 meals daily.

3. Stuck in their ways?

bar lounge

Still, not all parties were on board with the changes at first. Many Bethany residents were angry with the team initially, says Mary Schumacher, who has been on staff for just over a year and was promoted to director of food and beverage in late 2017. (Eggeman is transitioning out of the role to focus on consultancy.) Several menu items had been axed, and folks grumbled about construction noise and other renovation-related annoyances.

To help shift attitudes, the dining team put some power back in residents’ hands by giving sneak peeks of the new menus and concept logos, taking time to explain the changes and holding monthly meetings with an in-house dining committee that acted as a liaison between the dining department and residents. “I’ve learned quite a few things from being here; [healthcare] is a new industry for me,” says Eggeman, who previously worked in commercial venues.

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
healthcare foodservice coffee

From Smucker Away From Home.

Foodservice operators face a tall order when it comes to managing coffee service efficiently and profitably, not to mention meeting the standards of high quality and variety that consumers demand these days. According to Technomic’s 2018 Beverage report, consumers purchase an average of 3.8 beverages per week away from home; in terms of coffee, 37% of consumers say they are ordering it more now than they were two years ago.

That means there’s a lot of opportunity for foodservice establishments to attract consumers’ coffee dollars. In the...

Managing Your Business
kitchen staff

If noncommercial operators hope to pull job candidates away from restaurant jobs, here’s what they’ll need to offer, according to a flurry of new research.

The data underscore that pay, once third or fourth on most lists of the reasons foodservice employees leave a position, is becoming a far more important consideration for taking or keeping a job. Financial security is particularly important for members of so-called Gen Z, or what’s being defined as young people age 21 and under, according to the study just released by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (...

Ideas and Innovation

Not all the rivalry during a weekend of college football is limited to action on the field. Restaurants are intensifying their competition with college and university foodservices for the game day spreads that fans will set up in stadium parking lots and countless living rooms this season.

Operators ranging from Taco Bell to small independents are adding platters and meal packages this fall to capture more of the big-dollar spending by sports fanatics for tailgate parties and “couch gating,” the at-home version. They’re awakening to the opportunity many C&U foodservice...

Sponsored Content
local produce

From The Henry P. Kendall Foundation.

The Henry P. Kendall Foundation has spent more than 60 years investing in people and projects designed to make the world healthier and more sustainable. For the past six of those years, the Foundation has focused on the health and vitality of the food system within its native New England, with an eye toward increasing the amount of locally sourced food that is consumed in the region.

To do that, the Kendall Foundation looked to large-scale institutions, such as colleges and universities.

“By leveraging the buying power of the...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code