Dining Services Aims for Four-Star Delivery, Dining and Safety
Adapting services for Paradise Valley Estates residents while quarantined has presented vexing challenges. Perhaps one of the most complicated happened early in the virus outbreak when the Life Plan Community proactively decided to suspend communal dining and instead provide home meal delivery for both lunch and dinner for every resident.
Knowing that dining is a daily highlight for many residents and conscious of the top-shelf food quality his team is known for, David Kalbaugh, the community’s Dining Services director, set about creating a fulfillment system that duplicated a meal in the community’s popular main dining room or casual cafe. As the team delivered more than 20,000 meals in the past two months, the home delivery system evolved from a fledgling effort into a well-oiled machine. Getting there took equal helpings of creativity and hard work.
One of the first steps in transforming dining into an at-home experience was establishing a staging area for meal assembly. One area of the main dining room was set up with two tray lines, one fulfilling meals for homes and the other, apartments. The dining team, including cooks, servers and dishwashers, would gather at each line to fulfill orders. But before putting their new assembly line into action, new menus would need to be created.
Lunch and dinner options were scaled back to three entrée choices, with each meal including a vegetarian selection. Residents could round out their meal with a handful of dessert choices and 12 beverage options. One new beverage option is a complementary glass of red or white wine with dinner. It has proven so popular with residents that Dining Services now purchases 40 cases of white and red wine splits every two weeks!
With meals and assembly covered, communications regarding the change to home delivery were sent to all residents that explained the ordering process and delivery schedule. Residents could select their meal preferences using the web-based resident portal, or order by phone.
Delivering meals is an all-hands-on-deck effort. Team members work shifts to load meals onto trucks, carts and even Optimus Ride, the driverless vehicles being tested on campus, which are not yet driverless. When more delivery staff were needed, the Marketing team stepped up and even offered use of their over-sized golf cart.
Along with home meal delivery, Dining Services has added grocery delivery as well. Utilizing longtime vendor relationships, they’ve been able to procure cases of produce, frozen food, deli items, dairy, breads and household supplies such as paper towels, toilet paper and sanitizer. These bulk supplies are broken down into consumer-sized portions and delivered to residents who place orders online.
Dining services continue to evolve with changing conditions. David and his team are already preparing for the next phase of the community dining experience: group dining with social distancing. The dining team’s goal is to continue to exceed residents’ expectations, despite the clear limitations and challenges presented.
For a community that’s reliably vocal about satisfaction with meals, entree choices and dining in general, this mammoth effort has not gone unnoticed. Residents decided to show their appreciation after a few weeks and organized a heart-warming, surprise thank you for delivery teams as they drove around the community with the evening meal. The pot-and-pan banging, hoots and hollers were a sweet ending to a tiring day!
Visit the Greater Good to learn how our Life Plan Community residents and team members are working hard to keep our community well and safe.