Tribune Print Share Text

Dining at Charlestown

Good friends and great selections are always on the menu

Created date

September 1st, 2016
Charlestown’s restaurants and menu selections offer a wide variety of choices and dining experiences every day.

Charlestown’s restaurants and menu selections offer a wide variety of choices and dining experiences every day.

If you have been tightening the purse strings over the last few months and cooking at home to save a buck or two, you’re not alone. A new report by the market research firm NPD Group Inc. indicates Americans are cutting back on eating out. 

The report, featured in a recent Wall Street Journal article, shows visits to fast food restaurants like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Sonic, which have consistently grown by 2% each quarter since September 2015, stalled altogether in March, April, and May of this year. And visits to fast-casual restaurants, like Panera Bread and Chipotle, declined in May for the first time since 2004.

“When fast food growth comes to a halt, that’s a red flag because it’s been an area of growth and it’s 80% of the industry,” NPD restaurant analyst Bonnie Riggs said in the article.

With rising menu prices, it’s not surprising that Americans are scaling back or skipping eating out all together in an effort to save money. But an unexpected group of diners, those living at Erickson Living communities like Charlestown in Catonsville, Md., haven’t changed their eating habits.

Better together

Dorothy Kresslein dines with friends every night of the week at the Chesapeake, one of six on-site restaurants at Charlestown, where she lives. 

“They offer a lot of different choices,” says Dorothy. “On Thursday nights, they usually have prime rib, but if I’m not in the mood, I will go to the Fireside [restaurant] for something else like a crab cake.”

Healthy choices

A retirement community may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of great food. But don’t tell that to the culinary staff at Charlestown. They know you don’t have to sacrifice quality or taste just because you’re serving food on a large scale. 

In the pursuit to provide an exceptional culinary experience, Charlestown will soon roll out its new Signature Dining program, an all-new cooked-to-order menu. 

 Charlestown also offers diners easy ways to choose healthful foods through a program called Healthier Choice, which follows the USDA dietary guidelines for Americans and the American Heart Association’s recommendations with regard to the amount of fat, sodium, and sugar.

Smart Sweet, an alternative dessert program for people who want to avoid fat and sugar but still enjoy dessert after a meal, is also available.

Community members enjoy full access to nutritional information on the meals served in each of the six restaurants on My Nutrition, an easy-to-use website that empowers residents to make informed food choices. 

Most nights, Dolores Ford joins friends for dinner at the Fireside restaurant at Charlestown. And thanks to Charlestown’s flexible meal plan program, she hasn’t felt the pinch in her wallet as much as some in the Catonsville area. 

“There are a lot of healthy options on the menu,” says Dolores. “It’s nice not having to cook all the time. And eating in the dining rooms cuts back on what I spend at the grocery store. My daughter jokes with me now and says, ‘Mom, your cooking days are over.’”

Flexible dining options

Charlestown residents can select a daily meal plan, which provides one meal for every day of a given month at any of Charlestown’s on-site restaurants, or a 20-meal plan, which provides 20 meals in any calendar month. Both plans allow residents to allocate meals any way they choose. 

Angie and Ed Beltram eat breakfast and lunch at home and dine at Charlestown’s Chesapeake restaurant for dinner each night. 

“All the restaurants have a good variety,” says Angie. “At the Chesapeake, they always have four entrées to choose from and one vegetarian entrée, two starches, two vegetables, soups, a big salad bar, and lots of desserts. Normally when I go grocery shopping, I only buy the essentials—milk, bread, cereal, and fruit. I used to cook a lot. Now I rarely cook and don’t miss it at all. I thought I would, but I don’t.”

Aside from not having to cook, one of the things Angie enjoys the most is sharing a meal with new people each evening. 

“We usually tell [the dining staff] to seat us wherever they have room,” says Angie. “Sometimes, there might be four of us and other times six. It’s a great way to get to know people and we really enjoy it!”