Internet Café, Bistro, Ice Cream Parlor!

Internet café, bistro, ice cream parlor, no matter what you call them, all residents love them!

Alternative dining venues for long term care communities are one of the fastest growing amenities in new construction and existing communities today.

Villa Hermosa Full Service Bistro

Often as people age, they eat less, which can lead to undernourishment and health concerns. Environments that encourage and contribute to eating well may reduce malnutrition in the elderly. Despite the relative reduction in appetite, seniors may actually eat more when they are eating with others and when eating in an alternative dining venue. Creating gathering places as an alternative dining experience where residents are encouraged to socialize, participate in community activities, and interact with other residents and family may encourage improved health. Designers involved with long term care communities should consider methods to make bistros a location to encourage gathering of residents.

The design of a well executed bistro will require extensive programming to determine what amenities will be included. The service provider, management team must determine if the bistro will be operated by staff members, volunteers, or self service. Will products be provided as a supplement to the existing meal plan, or as a point of sale item? What products will be provided? Coffee is a must, but do you also provide espresso and lattes? How about a wood fired grill for made to order pizza’s? Panini’s, homemade soup, special desserts, wine, sandwiches, salads, pastries and fresh baked cookies are all options to consider.

There are varying styles and themes of bistro’s depending upon the level of care in the community, regional influences etc. The simplest of bistro is a hospitality counter providing an area for residents to enjoy coffee, espresso, cookies, fresh fruit, and juices. These are typically included within the resident’s monthly fees. This self serve counter may be available on a 24/7 basis or at specific times throughout the day.

Some communities will provide a full service alternative dining experience with for sale merchandise. This full service counter will require a staff member or a volunteer resident to work the bistro. Items may be available made to order, and/or be located in a visible cooler. This more extensive bistro will require code compliance with the health department and possibly other state or local jurisdictions. Temperature controlled storage for specialty wine, tap beer, and special liquors may be offered for the independent residents.

Bistros should be an exciting, invigorating, destination location. Seating should be appealing and comfortable. Cleanliness is demanded, and aromas may be a valued part of the dining experience. Ensure adequate and flexible lighting for reading, games, TV viewing, and conversation.

Stratford Scottsdale Memory Care Ice Cream Parlor
La Siena Hospitality Counter

The best location for an active and utilized bistro is often directly near the main lobby area. Residents enjoy views to the outdoors that are active with visitors and staff interaction. This location also becomes the perfect marketing tool in demonstrating an active, healthy environment for prospective residents.

The best bistro designs are cozy, with an unpretentious atmosphere, with lots of room to people watch, read the newspaper, surf the net, watch TV or just have a conversation with your friends and neighbors. Features may include a designated or building wide wireless internet access, computer labs with interactive hardware to stimulate resident’s minds. High definition televisions complete with Wii, CD’s DVD’s and other “cyber stuff” will allow residents to bring their own laptop and surf the web while socializing.

Think of your favorite coffee shop experience and recreate the same atmosphere for the senior population. A variation of the bistro theme if designed and programmed correctly is suitable for every level of care including higher levels of care such as memory care and skilled nursing communities.