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Brandywine's Award Winning Chophouse Dining Experience

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By Steve Moran

Several weeks ago I attended the first ever Senior Living Dining Association Conference, where Sean Keating was honored with the 2019 Award for Excellence of Operations.

Chop House Dining In Senior Living

The big idea is to give assisted living residents a classy, white table cloth, chophouse-style 4-course meal complete with all the fine dining accouterments -- wine in fancy glasses, salt and pepper grinders, breadbaskets with flavored butter. The meal includes soup or salad, a choice of cuts of meats and sauces, as well as two starch choices and dessert.

They do this once a month, cooking everything to order, very much restaurant style.

The Details

Here are some of the nuts and bolts:

  • As mentioned, they do this once a month.

  • An additional goal is to create a unique experience for residents once a week, typically Friday evenings, so it might be chophouse one Friday night, pasta bar another.

  • While it sounds expensive, it really is not because there is zero waste and they are replacing a meal they would have had to cook anyway.

  • It does take more staff, but when seen in the context of marketing the community it makes a lot of sense. It is a way to deepen relationships with residents and connect with prospects.

  • If you are still wondering about the economic impact, they have, in less than a year, seen 5 move-ins because of their dining experience.

Ultimately what they want to achieve is the experience of going out to dinner without residents having to go out.

Assisted Living Dining

Our conversation drifted to how they create a great dining experience for their residents. Fundamentally Sean wants to break the mold when it comes to assisted living dining.  

  • They operate from 7 in the morning to 7 at night.

  • There is no assigned seating. When they first made this change, it was tough for some residents, but they only have seating for 48 and 76 residents. Pretty soon residents got used to the idea that they would likely not be sitting with the same people every day and it actually has made for a more cohesive community.

  • While the lunch options are available from 11:30AM to 2:20PM, residents also know that all-day options are always available.

I have got to figure out how to participate in one of these dining experiences.  

You can watch the entire interview below:

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