Theme buffets and puzzles add spice at one retirement community.
LEWISBURG, Pa.—At the Ridgecrest Restaurant at 430-resident Riverwoods Campus, a senior living community in Northeast Pennsylvania, several initiatives have been implemented to bring a little excitement to the dining experience. Under the direction of Gary Verruni, general manager at this Metz & Associates account, residents have grown fond of new elaborate theme buffets and menu word searches.
“We wanted to add a little excitement to dining for our residents,” Verruni said. “So we started running a lunch buffet every Wednesday in our café. The menu varies from week to week. We’ll do a tailgate party, a taco bar, a breakfast-for-lunch buffet, a pizza buffet or a 24-foot Italian sub buffet. We’ve also done a polar bear picnic, where we set up our outside barbeque grill in front of the café windows and grilled in the middle of winter.”
Verruni said one of the most popular buffets is the prime rib and seafood buffet, which is done the second Friday of each month. The buffets have proven to be so popular, that Verruni has expanded the program to Friday buffets several times a month and Sunday brunch. Menu items for the prime rib and seafood buffet include barbeque baby back ribs, seafood alfredo with clams and shrimp, southern fried chicken and cornbread, garlic mashed potatoes and oysters shucked to order. He adds that participation is higher on Wednesdays because of the buffets and the excitement they bring. “It’s not the same old thing,” Verruni said. “And it’s not the typical soup and salad bar, so residents really feel like it is something special.”
The Wednesday lunch buffets, now in their fourth year, are $5.95 and, according to Verruni, have become a great selling point when giving tours to potential residents.
Another way Verruni and his staff add a little something extra to resident dining is by creating menu word searches. Verruni creates word searches, which are also done on Wednesdays, by taking the day’s menu items and hiding them in the word search. Another variation has been to put the foodservice staff’s names in the puzzle. Residents submit completed puzzles and five are selected at random. Those five people win a free lunch buffet the next Wednesday.