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Long gone are the days when meals at senior living communities resembled bland lunch in a high school cafeteria. Today’s better communities offer residents fine dining experiences to rival most upscale restaurants. Not only can residents relish fresh, savory cuisine created daily by professional chefs and dietitians, they are personally served at elegant tables in open, ambient surroundings. Sumptuous menu options cater to every palate and dietary regimen.
Also at residents’ fingertips each and every day is a broad array of desserts and beverages, from wine, beer and cocktails to refreshing coolers and all roasts of rich, aromatic coffees and teas. Events and social hours often revolve around specialty cuisine and the freshest ingredients on every level of the food pyramid.
And it’s not just residents who delight in fine fare; often, their family members are happy to join them as well. And staff is only too pleased to serve them.
In 2010, a major food service corporation conducted a study on the importance of high-quality food and dining programs to senior resident satisfaction. The study found that superior dining experiences not only support health and well-being, good nutrition and sheer gustatory pleasure, but also the essential social interaction that feeds the soul.
Not surprisingly, the study revealed that old-style tray passing programs were linked to the lowest rates of resident satisfaction, while fresh foods, greater choice and elevated service and hospitality were linked to the highest satisfaction. Atmosphere, lighting, seating, table dressings and dining area size and views were also significant factors.
Who’s to credit for these appetizing changes in dining for seniors? Several sources say it’s the Baby Boomers, some of whom are currently living in senior communities and many more who will be in the next 10 years or so. The Baby Boom generation is largely comprised of educated, affluent, well-traveled folks who are accustomed to living a certain way and having more choices.
Senior living communities across the country and world are responding to the call for better dining experiences, especially as they compete to attract the Baby Boomers who will arrive with high expectations for their parents, and in a growing number of cases, themselves.
At Friendship Village, dining just got even finer. Residents and staff are thrilled with the recent opening of Mosaic, our newest eatery. Joining full-service restaurants Seasons and Herman’s Bar and Grill, Mosaic “has been an important step towards achieving our dining strategy,” said vice president of operations Ben Gilchrist. “Through the completion of Mosaic and evolving menu choices, the expectations of our current and future residents are being met and exceeded.”
Mosaic goes beyond delectable food. It’s a veritable culinary showcase, featuring a 360-degree kitchen, which is unique even in today’s evolutionary senior dining. Set in the center of the dining room, the kitchen allows residents full view of their food as it’s being prepared and a wood-burning pizza oven. What’s more, Mosaic offers special events and cooking classes. In the near future, Friendship Village will also host a pub and casual café.
For those who want to venture outside of Friendship Village for fine dining (though, who needs to?), the city of Schaumburg offers an abundance of swanky cuisine. Nearby Woodfield Mall features several good choices, and Schaumburg is home to some of Chicagoland’s finest restaurants. From February 22-March 3, 25 restaurants in Schaumburg alone will participate in Chicago Northwest’s Restaurant Week.
For residents in contemporary senior living, mealtime is a far cry from the days many of them spent working away in their own kitchens. At Friendship Village, dining is another, most wonderful world away.