A restaurant-style menu and remodeled main dining hall are among the latest changes at Bethany Home.
By the end of this month, the nursing home plans to begin offering this new way of serving food in the main dining hall.
“From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., you will be able to get anything on the menu in the main dining hall,” said Josh Eggeman, Bethany Home’s food service director.
The new menu will include such items as Belgian waffles, made from scratch soups, build your own pizza, black angus burgers, milk shakes, vintage Flavor 8 Soda and smoothies.
Breakfast items will be available all day.
And, they will be served in a main dining hall, which now has a log cabin theme.
“I was specifically brought in because I hadn’t worked in this industry before, to completely change how we look at serving food. It’s a whole culture change,” said Eggeman, who became the food service director in January 2012.
He was 14 when he started working at a country club and worked his way up in restaurants.
“I’ve always worked with people and food. This is a different setting, environment,” Eggeman said. “I like it a lot. It’s very rewarding.”
After joining the staff, he interviewed about 30 residents, asking them about their food preferences and their favorite restaurants and recipes.
He used that information to create a new menu for residents, with two choices per meal.
The new menu began at the end of January.
Creating a restaurant-style service in the main dining hall was the other part of the menu changes.
Eggeman said that work followed last fall’s completion of a new resident dining area and kitchen for the long-term care residents.
“In the future, I’d like to come up with a little menu for the other dining area,” he said of the new one.
Bethany Home began offering a Lenten Friday fish fry and will continue to have the fish fry.
The nursing home is also looking to work with area churches.
“I think it’s a great place for people from the community to come and try the food. I think people need to know it is high quality,” said Sarah Halstead, Bethany Home’s director of outreach.
Ann Knight, who works in admissions and marketing, said for the residents, dining is a big part of their day.
“We want it to be a place people want to go, choose to go to,” she said of Bethany Home. “The industry is really changing. You have to be willing to change with it.”
Eggeman said the board has been very supportive of the changes.
Halstead said the nursing home industry is seeing a big change in how people decide where they want to live toward the end of their lives.
“I think it is eye opening for people,” she said, “when they see our space and know they can get up when they want to, they can eat when they want to and what they want to. It’s just a really nice place to be.”
Knight said residents share holiday dinners with family members, and Eggeman said Easter and Mother’s Day brunches are other new things being added this year.
“With assisted living and independing living (on the campus), we are talking about what we can do with that population,” he said.
Food was not the only topic when Eggeman sought input from residents.
The resident’s council chose five XM Satellite channels to play in the dining areas.
“We’re rotating them,” Eggeman said.
In addition to the residents, the staff was considered as changes were made.
“We have 200 employees here, so the menu is also geared toward them,” Eggeman said.
He said the staff was anxious about the changes.
“But once we started implementing it, they could see higher quality food and they could see they can do it,” Eggeman said.
The staff is also receiving compliments from the residents.
Eggeman included the restaurant-style of thinking into how the kitchen now operates, making it more efficient.
Previously, those serving food might also have been dishwashers.
Job descriptions were rewritten, and today, those who work in the dining hall serving food are dressed in khaki pants and green polo shirts, while those working in the kitchen are dressed in black cook shirts and black pants.