As part of a broad campus renovation, Bethany redid its entire foodservice program—including its main kitchen. And throughout the process, dining staff at the Waupaca, Wis., senior living center managed to keep all meals in-house. Here’s how they did it.
Having the main kitchen down was one of Josh Eggeman’s big fears about the three-phase renovation project, he says. Keys to getting through what could have been a trying time were disposable dishware, the ability to use other dish machines on campus and slating the kitchen redo for the last phase of construction. “I think saving it for last was smart for a variety of reasons, really,” says Eggeman, who was then Bethany’s director of food and beverage. “It gave me more time to plan, talk with the staff, get their feedback and for them to prepare.”
Phases one and two saw Bethany debut fast-casual concept Bleu Barn, a demonstration kitchen and several neighborhood kitchens—all equipped with appliances and areas that could be used for prep or dishwashing while the main kitchen was under construction. “In a nutshell, we needed to build the new before we could tear up the old,” Eggeman says.
A more feasible feast
Temporary menus were another linchpin to keeping things in-house. Those menus, put in place for a couple months, were easier to execute than normal and relied a bit more on premade items, Eggeman says. They offered just one option per meal (the standard had been two), as well as a 20- to 30-item restaurant-style menu for residents who didn’t care for the main offering. During that time, the team stuck with resident favorites that could satisfy several dietary needs—among them: turkey, potatoes and mac and cheese. A side benefit of those dishes: They were easy for staff to transport to different service areas on campus and cook there, Eggeman says.
“We could have tried to keep [the kitchen] open the whole time while they worked in there,” he says, “but it would have taken twice as long and would have cost more money … so we planned this out and we went this route.”