SANDY SPRING, MD ─ In September of 2018 Friends House Retirement Community announced plans for a major redevelopment and expansion project. Part of this renovation included a new kitchen space, dining room and bistro. Their foodservice provider of 10 years, Culinary Services Group partnered with Friends House to offer them dining solutions as they undertook this sweeping renovation.
Continuing to provide meal service without interruption to residents or staff presented a challenge to the Culinary Services Group team led by Bill Bannon, Food Service Director, John Bruner, Service Manager and Davena Marques, Assistant Director, but it also provided an opportunity for some out of the box creativity.
In May of 2019 the old Friends House kitchen was closed. Staff continued to prepare continental breakfast onsite every day in a reduced size, 30 x 30 prep space. Lunch and dinner preparation were moved offsite to another Culinary Services community 31 miles away, which graciously allowed the use of their kitchen facilities for the interim. This allowed Culinary Services to continue to prepare freshly made meals and deliver them to the Friends House residents.
Over the next 7 months, the Culinary Services team never missed a meal. Residents enjoyed meal service without interruption, continuing to receive hot meals according to planned menus served on regular tableware. The Culinary Services team was able to accomplish this with no additional cost to Friends House outside of a nominal transportation fee.
On December 12, 2019, the Culinary Services Group staff was able to move into a new state-of-the-art kitchen space in the Friends House Community. In February 2020 a new dining area and bistro will be available to residents, with foodservice and staffing provided by the Culinary Services team.
Many senior living communities throughout the US are facing similar expansion and renovation challenges as they recognize the importance of new amenities that appeal to a new generation of prospective residents. Dining areas are often at the forefront of those amenity spaces and the challenge of continued service during construction phases will need to be considered during planning.
Culinary Services Group could not be prouder of Bill Bannon, John Brunner, Davena Marques and their team for meeting this challenge head-on and taking a resident-first approach to a considerable operational challenge. We look forward to providing an exceptional dining experience in the newly renovated Friends House Retirement Community and a continued client partnership as their resident census continues to grow.