Adult living (or senior living, assisted living, whichever you prefer to call your industry) is moving at a breakneck pace from healthcare to true hospitality. Not just a trendy pivot or a “nice to have,” luxurious and modern amenities are essential to staying competitive in the world of adult living.
Active and well-traveled Baby Boomers are credited for this reinvention of the adult living industry. Healthy 60-year-olds are now considering packing their bags to call resort-like independent living facilities their new homes. When they move in, they can take advantage of golf leagues, biking tours, deep tissue massage sessions, pickleball contests, and dinner reservations at venues that remind them of their favorite restaurants. They’re not looking for a “rest home”—more like a cruise ship that doesn’t leave the dock.
In a focus group at one of the adult living communities we serve, we asked residents, “What’s your perfect meal?” to understand their dining expectations. One woman quickly said, “Peeling and eating shrimp on the beach while enjoying a chilled, crisp glass of chardonnay.” The bottom line is that it’s a new day with new demands for adult living dining. Jello salad may not cut it. Gone are the days when putting a garnish on a plate was considered by many residents as being wasteful. Now they appreciate those little touches, and even the more luxurious, like chefs rolling California rolls and assembling fresh guacamole tableside. Black coffee? How about lavender lattes from a barista.
Food expectations are not all that’s changed in regard to dining. There is also a demand for a variety of dining venues. No more cavernous dining halls with static menus. Rather, intimate venues for full-service and reservation-only fine dining, bistros and pubs, and coffee bars are desired.
As you might expect, many adult living communities are feeling overwhelmed by the relentless culinary pressure. Providing an efficient, safe, regulation-compliant community and providing dining that resembles a 3 Michelin star restaurant is no easy feat.
The upside is that it’s possible to balance these priorities, especially with the right staff. More and more chefs from the hospitality industry (versus typical healthcare culinarians) are intrigued by the evolved food philosophies at adult living communities. Why would restaurant chefs be interested in roles at an adult living community? Much of it has to do with the long hours of working in restaurant kitchens. They want to find more balance and fulfillment by working fewer hours while having the freedom to flex their culinary creativity.
Dine & Delight
5 Ways to Reinvent Adult Living Dining
Ready to bring a more vibrant dining experience to your adult living community, but not sure where to start? We invite you to take advantage of our free dining consultation.