[Updated: December 30, 2021 | Published: December 30, 2021]
Why is the Food and Beverage Department so important at Friendship Village in Dublin? It keeps our residents happy and well fed!
In fact, many of our residents say the quality of our food and dining experiences is their favorite part of coming home to our premier senior living community.
After a lifetime of daily meal preparation, it can be a thrill to hang up pots and pans and let our chefs pamper them.
“I don’t have to cook! I don’t have to go to the grocery very often, just to get makeup and things like that,” said Resident Pat D. “I’d rather spend my time playing.”
Our culinary team serves up restaurant-quality meals to tempt every appetite, with plenty of options appealing to different tastes. Rotating menus banish boredom while ensuring everyone can enjoy favorite dishes.
Making mealtimes sociable and enjoyable contributes to nutritional wellness, supporting an active senior lifestyle. Residents can choose from four dining venues or have delicious, nutritious meals delivered to their doors.
“Nutritional wellness is one of the nine dimensions of wellness we call The Village Way,” said Executive Director Rita Doherty. “We nourish body, mind and spirit through this holistic approach to wellness designed especially for seniors.”
“Our dining options create a framework that lets you enjoy food that fits your personal preferences while helping you live life to the fullest at every age.”
Read on to learn more about our food and beverage services and the team of 80 culinary associates who make dining a daily pleasure for our residents.
Meet Our New Food and Beverage Director
Matthew Schenk, MBA, CEC, CCA, joined our community as Director of Food and Beverage Services in August. He replaced Don Paul, who had helmed dining services for over 20 years.
“We’re thrilled to add Matt to our leadership team,” Rita said. “His knowledge and experience in every aspect of the food and beverage business are helping us maintain a tradition of excellence that keeps residents happy.”
Matt brings decades of hospitality industry experience to our community. As an executive chef for 27 years, he has tempted palates at top Columbus eateries including Lindey’s Restaurant and Bar in German Village and the Bravo | Brio Restaurant Group.
Before joining our leadership team, he served four years as Senior Executive Chef for Morrison Healthcare Food Services, where he oversaw meals for OhioHealth’s Riverside Methodist Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic.
Matt’s previous healthcare experience included six years as Executive Chef, Production and Catering Manager with Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
As the Culinary Director of the Columbus Culinary Institute from 2010 through 2017, he also taught some of the city’s up-and-coming young chefs their craft.
In his new role, he oversees all aspects of food and beverage services for Independent Living, Waterford Place Assisted Living, and Alderwood Health and Rehab residents.
“What I like about being at Friendship Village of Dublin is the teamwork,” he said. “If I have a question here, I walk downstairs and talk to Rita. I like that sense of family.”
“Because we are a local, independent and nonprofit senior living community, everyone works closely together. We’re all focused on serving the best to our residents. That’s our mission.”
Culinary Associates Serve Up Meals and Memories
Matt oversees a team of over 80 full- and part-time food and beverage associates, including managers, nutritionists, chefs, line cooks, servers, dishwashers and other associates.
This small army of food professionals plans menus, orders and stores food, prepares dishes, cleans up, and completes thousands of other tasks to ensure memorable dining experiences.
They serve over 3,000 meals each week to Independent Living residents, and another 1,500 meals in Waterford Place Assisted Living and Alderwood Health and Rehab.
“I feel very fortunate to have inherited a terrific team,” he said. “I’m proud of the way we all work together to create an exceptional dining experience for residents.”
Three top-level managers help keep operations running smoothly:
- Marissa Morris, who serves as House Operations Manager,
- Aaron Whittington, Senior Executive Chef, who specializing in menu engineering, and
- Registered Dietician Kristen Matthias, who serves as Quality Assurance Manager.
Local high school and college students, who gain valuable experience working part time at one of Columbus CEO’s Top Workplaces, round out the team.
The Food and Beverage Department is often looking to add to the team. If you have culinary experience or would like to get your foot in the door, check out our open positions.
Catering to Resident Tastes and Nutritional Needs
Matt’s team works round the clock to develop menus and source ingredients that balance resident preferences with nutritional needs.
“Many of our residents love Midwest, meat-and-potatoes menus, while others prefer lighter fare,” he said.
Individual tastes differ on everything from salt levels to vegetable type and preparation. “Some residents want vegetables cooked through, while others prefer them al dente, with a bit of crunch,” he said. “We offer both – though not always at every meal.”
“To keep things healthier, we go easy on the butter and salt and use more herbs for seasoning,” he added. “We also keep portion sizes reasonable.”
Chefs can make traditional dishes lighter—perhaps by reducing the portion, serving sauce on the side or omitting a starchy vegetable.
Heart-healthy, lower-sodium and gluten-free items are always on the menu, and nutritional information is available to help residents make healthy choices.
“We have a registered dietician on staff, and we also use Crandall Menus to ensure our offerings meet nutritional guidelines for adults over 51,” Matt said.
“In Independent Living, each resident chooses their own meals,” he added. “If they need guidance, they can meet with our registered dietician.”
Supply chain disruption because of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it harder to serve some menu favorites, so Matt’s team has to be both creative and flexible.
“For example, residents have a favorite tomato bisque soup that is no longer available,” he said. “We’ve tried at least four different options with a new company. When we couldn’t find one that residents liked, we switched to a great chicken noodle soup.”
“It’s all about communication with the residents and being adaptive with what we can get.”
Matt and the culinary team re-evaluate menus about three times a year to take advantage of new recipes and ingredients and keep things fresh.
Four Restaurant-quality Dining Venues
Independent Living residents can satisfy their taste buds and nutritional needs at four on-site dining venues.
The River’s Edge Cafe
Just off the lobby in our main building, The River’s Edge Cafe is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
This bright, clubhouse-style eatery offers breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets with fresh salads and sandwiches. A full bar serves beer, wine and cocktails.
In pleasant weather, residents can dine outdoors, or choose a seat inside the two-story glass atrium. They also can pick up grab and go meals including salads and sandwiches.
In the attached Village Store convenience shop, residents can pick up necessities like coffee, single rolls of toilet paper, pints of Johnson’s Ice Cream, and bottles of wine. The store has a full liquor license.
The Legacy at Scioto Dining Room
Our main dining room, The Legacy at Scioto, serves lunch and dinner seven days a week.
It features two full hot buffet items and a salad bar. Residents also can order from an always-on menu.
“Some of the residents’ favorites include lasagna, chef’s salad, burgers, fried shrimp, crab cake, beef filets and salmon,” Matt said.
“They love Taco Tuesday. We mix it up with different protein choices and presentation – burrito or soft tacos.”
Menus rotate on a four-week cycle to keep options fresh and interesting.
Late spring through early fall, residents can enjoy alfresco dining on the patio outside The Legacy.
Independent living residents also can order meals delivered to their doors.
“We’re always looking to make things easier and more convenient,” Matt said. “For example, residents will be able to order meals for pickup online within the next three months.”
The Village Bistro
Our lunch-only restaurant operates seven days a week.
A warm environment with a fireplace, abundant wood paneling and granite countertops creates a perfect spot for catching up with friends over a light meal.
Matt compares the fare to what you might find at a Panera Bread—fresh salads, sandwiches and light grill items.
The Riverwalk Restaurant
The Riverwalk offers fine dining experiences Wednesday through Sunday. With elegant lighting and a generous fireplace, this venue has the ambiance of a premier steakhouse.
The staff pampers guests with white tablecloths, attentive service and an upscale menu with dishes like duck confit, prime rib and rack of lamb.
Besides regular meals, Food and Beverage caters special events throughout the year – from holiday bashes to birthday parties.
The culinary team continually assesses the dining program and plans updates to surprise and delight residents. In the coming year, for example, Matt expects to open a new coffee shop.
Waterford Place Assisted Living and Alderwood Health & Rehab
As a LifeCare community, Friendship Village of Dublin offers a full continuum of care, including assisted living and skilled nursing and rehab. Each of our communities has a beautiful communal dining area.
Matt’s team plans, cooks and serves three meals a day at our Alderwood Health & Rehab and Waterford Place Assisted Living. When Rowan House Memory Care opens in 2022, it will have its own cafe and kitchens.
As needed, Matt’s team customizes meals for individual residents to their specific medical needs.
A Village within The Village
It Takes a Village to support the residents at Friendship Village, but many would consider Food and Beverage a village of its own.
Once Rowan House Memory Care opens in 2022, Matt and his team of 80 associates will operate four dining rooms, a coffee shop, four kitchens and four dishwashing areas.
“At the end of the day, my goal is to make sure we feed our residents well,” Matt concluded. “We want them to have good food to eat and good options across the board.”
“We’re working and living in their homes, and we want to make sure we give them the best meals we can in a variety that they will enjoy.”