Think resort, not mess hall. That’s what well-traveled, culturally engaged boomers are pushing for, says an article by Lee Simon in Foodservice Trends, a publication from the Tampa-based Innovative Foodservice Design Team.
Flex dining, ‘gourmet markets’ a la Starbucks and Panera, restaurant-style dining, a bar, outdoor dining options, room service, and a concept called “merchandining” (essentially, upscale buffets much like those in casinos) are among the dominant trends for the culinary future of senior living.
The article purports that these trends are important not only for improving the quality of life and satisfaction of residents, but of visitors too. It will also provide a new source of revenue. According to the piece, “These options will help overcome typical objections by family members when they are invited to dine with a resident, also presenting the establishment with additional revenue opportunities. Creating a draw for family members will support both the economic and social objectives of the senior living establishment.”
Currently the norm in most assisted living and retirement communities is cafeteria style and traditional dining room service, with fairly limited menu options (though some high-end facilities have more to offer). Simon’s article argues that boomers will not accept this, that their expectations are much higher. (But does it follow that costs will also be higher?)
Your turn: What kind of new dining experience would you like to see in senior living?