Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

AUG 2018

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36 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • AUGUST 2018 Association for Healthcare Foodservice to keep financials in line at Legacy Retirement Communities. "You must know your numbers and be able to tell the administrators and owners the cost per resident day," he says. "If you're self-op and want to remain that way, you also must show how profitable you can be and that being contract managed is more expensive." Hand in hand with benchmarking, Darrah works to control costs and quality standards by developing a strong supplier relationship. "Our loyalty contributes to our pricing versus if we cherry-picked with multiple suppliers." The Labor Dilemma In an attempt to elevate the dining program, Eisenberg sought to establish a culture of service when he joined Rogue Valley Manor in October 2017. He felt it was imperative to deliver on the administration's expectation that he would elevate the level of the dining program. "The quality of food was very good, but staff were stretched thin and they weren't being held accountable for standards," Eisenberg says. "Establishing staff meetings, opening up com- munication and online training for staff, and showing staff we care about them has had a positive impact on reducing turnover among front-of-house staff and prep staff and cooks because the staff is more engaged. Legacy Retirement Communities hires skilled culinar- ians, something that helps the facility maintain a competitive advantage among retirement communities, says Darrah. "In order to develop a reputation as one of the top retirement communities in the Midwest, we have executive chefs, execu- tive sous chefs and sous chefs in each of our four facilities," he says. "We do 90 percent from-scratch cooking, develop all of our menus in-house and do recipe development on-site at the facilities. Our hands aren't tied by a corporate menu cycle, and we change our menus seasonally every three months. And we aren't under pressure to offer preprocessed menu items and microwave TV-style dinners." The facility's strength in the retirement community, strong food culture and competitive wages contribute to maintaining a consistent workforce, says Darrah. He does not currently face labor shortage or high turnover issues. Pacific Retirement Services faces some labor issues in certain parts of the country. The labor pool in Medford, Ore., for example, is noticeably thin. The absence of a culi- nary school in the area limits labor sources. The operation depends on high school students, who Eisenbeerg often hires as food servers but who tend to have erratic schedules. Future Visions While acute care moves in the direction of menu standardiza- tion, Eisenberg believes long-term care and continuous care retirement communities should build dining venues resembling marketplaces that offer flexibility with shopping, takeout and dining options. He sees technology playing a role as well, primarily for ordering menu items, making table reservations, providing electronic customer service feedback, and other applications that commercial retail restaurants and grocery stores use now. Eisenberg's dream is to design an Eataly-style environ- ment in the future, where residents could connect more with food preparation. He envisions a hub where fresh items from Rogue Valley's gardens would support meal kits for residents who live in private homes on the campus. "Residents are entitled to one meal a day with their meal plan," Eisenberg says. "To take advantage of meal credit, they have to eat in a dining room. We offer takeout, but that food is already prepared. We also deliver trays to those in need. But I'd like to develop kits containing packages with pro- teins and vegetables that they can heat in their kitchens on their own timeline." His view is that this would be one more service that would help his team build more trusting rela- tionships with residents so they'll feel more comfortable with dining services when they transition into more assisted living. Due to the healthcare industry's growing emphasis on food as medicine, Eisenberg is implementing a new menu management program as part of a suite of information technology products. This new suite will provide detailed nutrition information about foods containing sodium and antioxidants and the benefits of each. That's in addition to allergen information. He also hopes to hire more dietitians to help residents with special diets. At Legacy, Darrah expects to launch pub-style foodser- vice in the very near future. The menu will include burgers and fries, garden salads, and chips. "This is part of a nation- wide trend in which facilities are being converted to become multifunctional spaces," he says. Residents will place orders with staff, who will transmit the orders from their tablets to the kitchen. Darrah sees more application of this technology to other parts of the operation as well. Darrah will also introduce more grab-and-go items into the coffee shops during the coming year to enhance resi- dents' dining options. High-speed ovens and induction cook- ing may also be part of the future at Legacy, although he also wants to foster chefs' passion for the art of cooking. In addition, Darrah's team will continue to develop menus for Legacy's Alzheimer's units. "Food brings them back to memories of smells and taste, and I think there's more we can do with food for these patients," he says. FE&S "Once they are here, dining becomes an important focus of their daily routine." Eric Eisenberg, Rogue Valley Mano r SENIOR LIVING UPS THE ANTE ON DINING

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