Tribune Print Share Text

Customer-centric dining

Lantern Hill serves up flexibility in three distinct venues

Created date

November 6th, 2015
dining serves a range of options

Lantern Hill, the Erickson Living community opening in New Providence, N.J., has been pulling out all the stops to prepare a top-notch dining program aimed to please.

“Focus groups of future residents helped us determine what the menus will look like and how our dining plan will be structured,” says Sales Director Randy Carroll. “It will become what they’ve asked for.”

Une entrée

For starters, a declining-balance meal plan will be included in each resident’s monthly service package, which also includes utilities, home maintenance, professional landscaping, light weekly housekeeping, underground parking, property taxes, trash collection and recycling, use of all amenities, 24-hour concierge, and regularly scheduled local transportation.

The monthly amount is based on the average price of a meal in Lantern Hill’s casual restaurant, Chef’s Table. The community will feature two other venues: Lantern Grille with pub-style fare and Tall Oaks, featuring fine dining.

Residents may use their balance to purchase items in any of the three restaurants, as well as in the marketplace for grab-and-go meals or groceries. Items will be priced according to market value, “but there’s no tax or gratuity, which is nice,” says Carroll.

Though the restaurants will serve alcohol with a club license, the meal plan applies to food only. 

Prime choice

“It’s all about choice. That’s what came out through the focus groups,” says Carroll. 

Focus group findings determined that aside from the increasing importance of flexibility among participants, it goes beyond declining-balance plans to the types of foods, number and variety of dining venues, and hours of operation.

Hill will operate three distinct dining venues with three distinct price points within 90 days of being fully occupied. 

Lantern Grille, a very casual pub-style venue, will serve one-course meals for lunch and dinner. It will feature a fireplace, bar, pool table, TVs, booths, and tables.   

Chef’s Table will offer casual dining with an open kitchen. The menu consists of multicourse meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Seats will be available around the countertop so diners can watch cooking in action. Tables and chairs and a banquette will also be available.

Lantern Hill’s fine dining restaurant, Tall Oaks, will feature a higher-end menu with formal courses for dinner only. Reservations may be required.  

Healthy menu options will be offered and supported by the menu program Net Menu. Residents and guests may view menu items and nutrition information online. Additionally, Chef’s Table and Tall Oaks will have the ability to make substitutions and adjustments to meet dietary needs, such as gluten-free or vegetarian. 

All three venues will offer more flexibility in when people eat by extending hours later than what one might find at other senior living communities. 

Industry shift

Edward Wang, dining director at Lantern Hill’s sister community, Cedar Crest, located in Pompton Plains, says he sees an industry shift, and Erickson Living is ahead of the curve.

“It’s becoming more of a hospitality industry. The demographics coming in are the Silent Generation and the Baby Boomers. They are completely different than the G.I. Generation,” he says, citing ideas presented in Generations, by Neil Howe and William Strauss. “They want flexibility, choice, and specialties.” 

For example, he says, they want to eat at different times throughout the day or later than previous generations. They want more variety on the menu, such as gluten-free and vegetarian options. 

“The people moving in now want to be able to choose whatever they want,” Wang says. “And we need to be able to provide that choice.”

While Cedar Crest is adapting its dining program, Carroll says Lantern Hill is designed to meet those needs from the start.