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Recipe for success

New dining options on the menu at Ashby Ponds

Created date

March 14th, 2018
Ashby Ponds residents toast to the success of the community’s newest restaurant—1912. (In back, from left) Frank Babka, Jacquelyn Hill, Mary Alice Babka, and Marlane Curran.

Ashby Ponds residents toast to the success of the community’s newest restaurant—1912. (In back, from left) Frank Babka, Jacquelyn Hill, Mary Alice Babka, and Marlane Curran.


Virginia Woolf once remarked, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”

Dining well, both in taste and nutrition, is an important hallmark of living at an Erickson Living community.

At Ashby Ponds, an Erickson Living community in Ashburn, Va., Director of Dining Services John Porter leads a team of the finest culinary experts to provide delicious and healthy food options presented as part of Erickson Living’s industry-leading Signature Dining experience. With the 2017 opening of 1912, a full-service restaurant, and the upcoming opening of Dogwood Pub, Ashby Ponds residents enjoy seven dining venues.

Strong leadership

The strength of the Ashby Ponds dining program is the direct result of its leader, John Porter, who, after witnessing his parents’ positive experience living at Riderwood, an Erickson Living community in Silver Spring, Md., left his position at The Cheesecake Factory and began working for the company.

Bringing more than 20 years of restaurant management experience with him to Ashby Ponds, Porter is dedicated to providing community members with a top-notch dining experience, plentiful options, and numerous opportunities for resident feedback and influence.

“I believe dining is an experience that one should look forward to each day,” says Porter. “As Ashby Ponds grows, our dining services team will continue to provide menu options that reflect the tastes and unique needs of our residents.”

In an effort to provide Ashby Ponds residents with a dining experience similar to one in a local restaurant, each dining venue offers Signature Dining—meals prepared as they are ordered. This concept in community dining replaces pre-cooked meals placed in chafing dishes 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 Porter. “By cooking meals to order, our chefs are able to better meet the dietary restrictions and food preferences of our community members.”

Latest menu addition

The newest addition to the Ashby Ponds dining program is 1912 (named for the year the Japanese gifted the U.S. with cherry blossom trees), an Asian-fusion-inspired restaurant located in Cherry Blossom Square. It will be followed later this month with the opening of Dogwood Pub.

As part of the ongoing effort to keep community members engaged in their dining experience, several focus groups were conducted prior to 1912’s opening. The results of these efforts are evident in the high quality of meals served and positive feedback from the residents.

“We use local ingredients to create a variety of Pacific Rim-influenced dishes,” says Porter. “Our servers take orders on digital tablets, sent directly to the kitchen, to ensure timely arrival and accuracy.”

Ashby Ponds community members appreciate the efforts, as 1912 has swiftly become one of the most popular dining venues on campus. To help ensure a table for everyone wishing to dine at the restaurant, reservations are available.

“I enjoy dining at 1912 very much,” says C. Carole Richards, who moved to Cherry Blossom Square last year. “My favorite meal is, hands down, the lamb chops, followed by the Asian salad, the variety of soups, and the brownie with a side of ice cream for dessert.”

Carole’s neighbors Joanne Harney and Greg Johnson share her sentiments.

“We recently began dining at 1912 when friends of ours moved into Ashby Ponds,” says Joanne. “We really enjoy the Asian fusion choice of meals, the presentation, quality, taste, temperature, and appropriate size of meals. It is a more intimate setting and very well staffed.”

“I have so many favorites,” says Greg. “For starters, I enjoy the lemongrass chicken noodle soup and the quinoa and edamame salad. My favorite entrees include the banh mi, Hunan lamb, and pad Thai with shrimp. The sides are also delicious, including the snow peas, asparagus, and bok choy.”

In addition to the tantalizing menu options, guests at 1912 enjoy the opportunity to taste the restaurant’s signature Cherry Blossom wine, discovered by community member Mary Terry while shopping at Trader Joes. A full wine and beer menu is also available.

Looking forward

As Ashby Ponds’ dining services continues to meet the needs of the community, Porter and his team encourage ongoing communication.

“Initiating conversation is the best way to ensure that we continue to meet the needs of everyone we serve,” he says. “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.”

This feedback, already playing a key role at the established restaurants on campus, will help make Dogwood Pub, opening later this month, a resident favorite.

“We really appreciate the variety of dining choices available to us, from formal to casual, deli, and carryout,” says Joanne. “We are all eager to try the new Dogwood Pub and to enjoy the future of Ashby Ponds dining.”