Does your dining room make people want to live in your community?

My friend Alice told me about meeting with a long-time friend recently. Knowing my Kind Dining® beliefs and dedication to senior retirement communities, she thought of me as the conversation unfolded. “My girlfriend brought me up to date on the small hotel business she and her husband bought in a small town, two years ago.” She said, “They both had experience in that industry but were shifting their work time to other things they loved to do. Now in midlife, he’s an artist and she’s a writer so they didn’t want to spend masses of time in the hotel every day.

Most of the staff had been with the hotel for years and could practically run it on their own. She said that one of the surprises they didn’t expect was how the hotel dining room brought in a large portion of income. “At first, the dining room was the only area of the hotel that fell below par when they took the hotel over. They asked friends who the staff would not recognize, to dine there and give them an honest assessment on what needed to be improved. Then they got down to making changes starting with discussions with the chef, taking note of his enthusiasm but lack of adventure because the former owners would not allow him to stretch his talents. We saw a definite change in his demeanor when we gave him full control and responsibility of menus and his prepping cooks. He had all these wonderful ideas tucked inside him waiting to let them loose!

“Then we gathered the wait staff for a meeting hour between lunch and dinner. We introduced training exercises showing them how we wanted them to perform and teaching them what results could be expected. We also handed them the opportunity for living hospitality, giving them our interpretation of what it is and how to attain it. We encouraged them to notice what improvements they would like to see happen, promising a meeting twice a month to discuss whatever they wanted to talk about in regards to the dining room. Only one person was grumpy. We decided to give him some time to acclimate since he was a long time employee. It was clear though, that it was his obligation to make the effort.”

Alice recalled that they spent time in the beginning reinforcing their new goals for their employees and were on hand to encourage the staff with their presence. But once the food servers worked as a team, it all smoothed out. Allowing the chef to incorporate his ideas turned the dining room into a well-received restaurant. As the restaurant became popular, people booked their rooms for entire weekends. Who would have thought the dining room had the power to make a tremendous success for the entire hotel? While a small hotel is not a retirement community, the basics are the same and the results could be also.

Our B Kind ® Tip: Remember, hospitality is an attitude of caring.

About Cindy Heilman

Cindy Heilman MS, DTR: Cindy Heilman has over 25 years of experience in enhancing hospitality, and food service standards. She is the CEO of her own company, Higher Standards LLC, and creator of Kind Dining® Training. Her unique background in restaurant ownership, in hospitality and healthcare food service, in working as a Dietetic Technician Registered and Healthcare Specialist at SYSCO Foodservices, led her to the development of her exclusive program that improves relationships and lives of aging residents through the dining experience.

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