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The Cider House Bistro rules!

At Brooksby Village's Cider House Bistro, residents can sit at an attractive bar, have a cocktail, and watch a ball game on TV. Residents and their guests can pull up to a table and order a fresh-baked pizza and a round of ice-cold regional beers. Residents can sit by the fire with visiting grandchildren and order some cookies and hot chocolate.

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A part of Erickson Retirement Communities, Brooks-by Village in Peabody, Massachusetts, opened in June 2000 and has nine residential apartment buildings. The tenth residential apartment building is scheduled to open later this year. Brooksby Village embodies Erickson's mission: "We share our gifts to create a community that celebrates life." With the company mission in mind, Brooksby Village wanted to foster an active community with lots of appealing things to do and a variety of dining venues.

While looking at the proposed drawings for Brooksby Village's second community building, Director of Dining Services Paul J. Coco noticed that it designated a modest seating area for residents to wait for tables, a small game room, and a shuffleboard room. Next to these three areas would be the building's main restaurant. In its dining operations, Brooksby Village is challenged to provide a refreshing, exciting menu, especially as the next wave of seniors begins to move in--the baby boomers will have different palates and interests than their predecessors. To that end, Coco proposed that the three designated spaces be combined to create a new restaurant concept: the Cider House Bistro, a cozy gathering place with a pub, fireplace, and outdoor terrace. It was named the Cider House because Brooksby Village's neighbor, Brooksby Farm, is an apple orchard.

"Our philosophy at Erickson is that we provide an appealing and eclectic variety of dining venues for our residents. Having a bistro fits in well because it is different from the buffet, the full service, and the cafeteria venues, thus offering that variety," Coco says.

The Cider House serves snacks and light fare, as well as homemade "comfort" desserts such as a hot brownie with ice cream and creme brulee. Drinks include specialty cocktails--hot drinks such as Irish coffee in the winter and the always-popular margarita--soft drinks, and gourmet coffees and teas. It is supported by a dedicated bistro kitchen where cooks prepare Panini sandwiches and bake fresh-made gourmet pizzas.

The bistro has a large fieldstone fireplace, and the room is adorned with photographs, artwork, and knickknacks. With subdued lighting, two TVs, and music, it provides a cozy alternative to the larger, bright dining rooms residents are used to. With seating at the bar, around the tables, or on the terrace, residents can sit alone, with one or two folks, or with a large group. The outdoor terrace has tables and a view of tasteful landscaping. "Residents have bocce tournaments just beyond the terrace seating during the warmer weather," Coco says. A large grill on the terrace is available for specialty grilled foods.

The Cider House has also provided a venue for Floor Nights, an opportunity for new residents to meet other residents, and a gathering place to watch televised sporting events, including Red Sox games, with special food items and drinks available. "There are some 'regular' groups (like clubs) that come at certain times each week. And whenever there is an event or theme, or a game on the big-screen TV, there are increased numbers," Coco notes.

There are also many special theme nights, such as a holiday season gathering, a Caribbean night featuring karaoke, and clambakes. "When there is a theme night, decorations, music, apparel, and menu items reflect the theme, and there may be contests and awards for costumes," Coco adds. The Cider House often books professional musicians to perform--and shows off Brooksby Village's own talent. "Our restaurant manager and one of the bartenders are very talented musicians and often bring in their guitars and perform," Coco says.

The Cider House's ambience appeals to residents, visitors, and staff--and it helps to draw in potential staff, as well. "The bistro is very attractive to restaurant and hospitality folks since it is not the normal type of venue at CCRCs. But all five of our restaurants (in independent living) are unique and very attractive, offering restaurant-style ordering and service," Coco explains. "Over in Renaissance Gardens, our assisted living, rehabilitation, and nursing care facility located at Brooksby Village, there are some of the more traditional approaches to dining--yet even there we have some unique programs with the decor and service."

Before the Cider House opened, residents at Brooksby Village were accustomed to the facility's dining services being open for two- to three-hour segments covering a meal period--such as dinner service from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. Also, on certain days of the week, such as Sunday, some restaurants serve only brunch, and are not open for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The Cider House, though, is open from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m., seven days a week. Residents can pay for meals with cash or by charge.

So far the Cider House has been quite vogue. "The Cider House is definitely a popular place for our residents, family members, and other guests," Coco notes. And those that come are duly impressed, he adds: "It has become the model for other bistro/pubs in our company."

Brooksby Village is part of the national network of communities developed and managed by Baltimore-based Erickson Retirement Communities. For more information, phone (800) 979-7270 or visit www.ericksoncommunities.com. To send your comments to the author and editors, please e-mail peltier0506@nursinghomesmagazine.com.

BY MICHAEL PELTIER, ASSISTANT EDITOR

A collaboration of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging and Nursing Homes/Long Term Care Management Not-for-Profit Report, appearing in every issue of Nursing Homes magazine, addresses issues of particular interest to long-term care's not-for-profit sector. It provides nonprofit aging service providers with an additional information resource. Topics have been identified in collaboration with the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. Nursing Homes welcomes comments and suggestions for future coverage.
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Author:Peltier, Michael
Publication:Nursing Homes
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2006
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