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Aiming to please

Oak Crest welcomes David Colacicco, new director of dining services

Created date

September 24th, 2013
Oak Crest Director of Dining Services David Colacicco

David Colacicco is a long way from his first job at the snack bar at the Halekulani hotel in Waikiki Beach, Hawaii. But 5,000 miles and 30 years haven’t diminished his passion for food and hospitality as the new director of dining services at Oak Crest in Parkville, Md.

“My goal is simple: make every dining experience at Oak Crest delightful,” says Colacicco.

Seasoned professional

After Colacicco got his first taste of the culinary industry as a teenager while living in Hawaii, he decided to pursue a career in the hospitality field and attended The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University, where he graduated with honors.

Colacicco then honed his skills over the next three decades managing restaurants and dining facilities for clients like the French Embassy, IBM, Northrop Grumman, Stouffers, and Marriott, before joining Erickson Living in 2009 as regional dining director.

“I have had a lot of great work experiences,” says Colacicco. “But Erickson Living really stands out because of their values and their mission. The values we adhere to are a real part of our operating style, not just a chart on a wall. It’s really a great work environment.”

In his new role as dining services director, Colacicco oversees the dining services department, which includes three restaurants, a café, pub, two stores, a busy catering department, as well as the dining rooms in Oak Crest’s continuing care neighborhood. He also is involved with the community’s menu planning, theme nights, and quality control.

Your opinion matters

“We serve 2,500 meals a day in our restaurants,” says Colacicco. “Pleasing our residents is my main objective. We take resident feedback very seriously.”

Each year, the community distributes a resident satisfaction survey that measures Oak Crest’s improvement from year to year, as well as how it compares to 300 similar continuing care retirement communities in the U.S., including other Erickson Living communities.

The survey is conducted by Holleran, a research services company that specializes in survey development, data collection, analysis, and reporting.

“We review the satisfaction survey and evaluate every recommendation we receive,” says Colacicco. “We also have comment cards available in every restaurant on the campus.

“Over the past year, we have introduced a number of changes as a result of customer feedback. Some of the changes have been small, like offering real glassware in lieu of plastic tumblers at happy hour or accommodating people with gluten allergies by identifying wheat-free items on our menus.

“Plus, in response to an increasing interest in adding more variety to our menus, earlier this year we surveyed Oak Crest residents before developing our summer menus and were able to incorporate many of their suggestions,” he says. “We have also increased the variety of daily menu items, as well as incorporated new weekly features. For example, we introduced an omelet to our rotating weekly menus, which has been very popular.”

Colacicco says the introduction of theme dinners has also been well received in the community.

“We have designed dinners themed around a Caribbean cruise, sock hop, seafood festival, and this year we introduced a weekly outdoor barbecue. We are continuously looking at restaurants outside the community, as well as other Erickson Living communities, for new ideas that will continue to make our program the best it can be,” he says.

Behind the scenes

But like in any operation, Colacicco stresses the key to success is having an excellent support staff.

“I am fortunate to have a talented team of 25 managers leading nearly 400 associates to provide this variety of services to our residents,” says Colacicco. “I’ve tried to create an environment where our team has an opportunity to learn, grow, and develop their own skills and talents in order to be able to better serve our residents while creating bright futures for themselves.”