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Restaurant revamp

Oak Crest’s café offers new look, new menu, same great service

Created date

September 25th, 2012

To say Jack Barwick is excited about the new Banners Caf opening at Oak Crest next month would be an understatement. I live for the opportunity to redesign restaurants or work on a new concept, says Barwick, dining services director at Oak Crest. Banners Caf , one of five restaurants at the Parkville, Md., Erickson Living community, is undergoing a $1.2 million renovation that will feature a stone pizza oven; teppanyaki grill for fresh, cooked-to-order items; and a Wood Stone rotisserie featuring slow-roasted chicken, ribs, sausage, fish, and vegetables. Each of our restaurants undergoes a renovation every five to seven years which includes updates like new carpet, paint, upholstery and finishes, says Barwick, who has worked on nearly two dozen renovations. But with Banners Caf , we really wanted to do some dramatic changes and start from scratch. The end goal is really to expand our current offerings and update our overall operation. The new caf , which will seat up to 84 people, will feature a muted neutral color scheme with natural stone, wood, and a variety of metal highlights such as copper and burnished steel. The project is a collaboration between Oak Crest dining services, Erickson Living, and E.F. Whitney, a design consultant who specializes in food service facilities. Input from Oak Crest residents was also incorporated into the overall design plan. Shirley McCorkle serves on the Oak Crest dining services committee, an advisory board made up of Oak Crest residents and representatives from the dining services department. Shirley serves as a liaison between the dining services department and the residents in her Oak Crest neighborhood. I m excited about the changes. I think it s going to be great, says Shirley who has frequented Banners Caf for the 17 years she s lived at Oak Crest. These updates will provide our chefs with the tools to continue to be creative and offer new choices.

Endless choices

Of course, Banners Caf isn t the only dining option on Oak Crest s 87-acre, college-style campus. The Fireside offers full-service modified American cuisine with a full salad bar. Windows offers a nightly buffet. The Oak Room serves full-service continental cuisine. And the Acorn Pub offers casual dining in a bistro setting with a full bar. These dining venues will fit in nicely with Oak Crest s new flexible meal program. Residents will be able to choose 20 or 30 meals each month and decide how they wish to use them treating family and friends to dinner, eating multiple meals on the same day, or dining once a day over the course of the calendar month.

Tasty new dishes

Some new dishes slated for the Banner s Caf menu include smoked salmon flatbread; chicken pesto with flame-roasted tomatoes; pesto sauce pizza; vegetarian flatbread with flame-roasted tomatoes, olive oil, fresh garlic, mache greens, and parmesan flakes; a bacon and egg breakfast pizza; specialty dessert pizzas; and a variety of casseroles like four-cheese macaroni with lobster. We strive to keep the menus evolving by offering seasonal dishes and local in-season produce, says Barwick. Before we introduce a new menu, we spend weeks holding open meetings with our culinary staff and the residents, inviting them to make suggestions on things they would like to see on the new menu. We also put out a questionnaire four times a year asking for feedback. In fact, we estimate that 75% to 85% of our menus are customer driven. Shirley says when it comes to the quality of the food, the proof is in the pudding. I think the food is great, and I consider myself a pretty good cook, says Shirley. For years, I cooked for four men three sons and my husband so I know a little bit about trying to please people. Barwick says although it can get tricky trying to satisfy the appetites of so many people, he still gets jazzed about his job. I m lucky to work with such a dedicated staff, he says. Our number one goal is to make healthy, delicious meals from the freshest ingredients available, and if the smiles we see on the faces of the residents are any indicator, I think we are succeeding at doing just that.