Tribune Print Share Text

Innovation on the menu

Greenspring’s dining program is always on the cutting edge

Created date

May 12th, 2016
Director of Dining Eli Ayoub

Director of Dining Eli Ayoub has heralded the new and successful Signature Dining program at Greenspring, which features fresh, made-to-order meals.

Greenspring recently welcomed Eli Ayoub as the new director of dining services at the Erickson Living community in Springfield, Va. Ayoub brings to the community nearly 25 years of leadership in hospitality and dining operations, as well as more than a decade of experience serving the senior living industry. 

“I believe dining is an experience that one should look forward to each day,” says Ayoub.  “I look forward to promoting a nourishing menu with a variety of fresh choices and healthy options for the residents and staff at Greenspring.”

As director of dining services, Ayoub will oversee the culinary operations for five dining venues at the community, as well as dining operations at Greenspring’s continuing care neighborhood. His arrival coincides with the beginning phases of the community’s new Signature Dining program. 

Distinguished career

Prior to arriving at Greenspring, Ayoub spent five years as director of hospitality at Collington Life Care in Mitchellville, Md. In that position, he oversaw the community’s comprehensive food and beverage operations with a focus on employee development, menu development, and nutrition.  

Ayoub has also worked for Sunrise Senior Living as the director of dining services throughout D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.  

Topping off his credentials, he served as director of dining services for Brookdale Senior Living in Silver Spring, Md., and Pompano Beach, Fla., and has worked for several private clubs locally, including Argyle Country Club in Silver Spring, Md., and Belle Haven Country Club in Alexandria, Va.

“Throughout my career, I’ve made it my priority to ensure that the residents I work for play the main role when it comes to their dining,” he says. “As the director of dining services, my goal is to ensure that residents know that Greenspring’s dining venues are their restaurants and that our staff will meet their needs, requests, and expectations. We welcome their opinions when it comes to menu planning, themed dining events, and various celebrations.” 

Signature service

Ayoub’s arrival at Greenspring comes at an exciting time for dining services. Last November, the community introduced Signature Dining at the Woodland Skies Restaurant. Since that time, the program has expanded to include all three of Greenspring’s full-service restaurants, with each restaurant featuring a different menu.

This approach provides Greenspring residents with a dining experience similar to one in a favorite restaurant, with made-to-order menu options.

“Signature Dining is a very exciting dining initiative that allows dining services the opportunity to provide a level of service not traditionally offered at retirement communities,” says Ayoub. “By cooking meals to order, we are able to better meet dietary restrictions and food preferences.”

And according to residents, Signature Dining simply means that food tastes even better.

“We now have up to 25 different dinner entrees on the menus,” says community member Roy O’Connor. “The quality of the menu items, all cooked to order, is really very good. I think most residents would agree that the quality is clearly better.”

Community members Clint and Vicki Lambert also enjoy the new Signature Dining program. 

“We know each evening that our meals will be fresh, appropriately prepared, and served at the right temperature on heated plates,” says Clint. We feel like we truly are going to a restaurant each evening and not to just a dining room. After trying each of the new Signature dishes at Woodland Skies, we have found the cottage pie, meat loaf, shrimp and cheese tortellini, fried catfish, fisherman sandwich, and shrimp Alexander to be our preferred entrees.”  

Engaged in the process

Committed to his promise to keep community members engaged in their dining experience, Ayoub continues to welcome feedback on the new program. He recently introduced an optional dinner reservation system.  

“Individually preparing each made-to-order dish resulted in longer wait times to be seated for dinner,” says Ayoub. “We listened to residents and realized that allowing for reservations would drastically cut down on the wait time.” 

“Most people I talk with like the option to reserve a seat and dinner,” says Roy. “I know my wife and I take full advantage of this opportunity.”

The Lamberts also appreciate this new feature.

“By making a reservation, we know that we will not have to wait for more than five to ten minutes before being seated. We also know that our meals will be delivered in a timely manner,” says Clint.

To ensure that Greenspring community members continue to enjoy their meal options, dining services reviews the number of dishes served each evening and replaces less-popular dishes with new choices. Residents also meet to determine what it is they would like to see on the menus.

“As a result of these efforts, dining services offers weekly specials based on the feedback they receive,” says Roy. 

“Although Signature Dining is still in its early days, its implementation illustrates that Greenspring is progressive and always looking for ways to stimulate the residents and attract new residents,” says Clint.  “Our management is sensitive to the needs and desires of the population and continually seeks to meet those needs and desires as best they can.” 

Looking forward

As Greenspring’s dining services continue to meet the needs of the community, Ayoub and his team encourage ongoing communication. 

“We have begun to use our in-house cable television channel to promote our specials and improve communication,” he says. “Initiating conversation is the best way to ensure that we meet the needs of everyone we serve.  I believe that we have the most compassionate and understanding residents and staff, and by working together, we will enhance the quality of our dining programs. 

“I look forward to building a strong, trusting relationship based on self-empowerment and engagement. The end result will be a healthy and enjoyable dining experience.”