Residents of Phoebe Berks Village, a senior living community in Wernersville, Pa., enjoy a variety of dining styles, from bistro fare to fresh-made pizza and coffee shop-style meals and snacks.
In March, foodservice operator Cura Hospitality went a step further by adding The Pub. With seating for about 100 guests and a bar that accommodates about a dozen, the new addition provides a congenial spot for socializing and enjoying a favorite adult beverage.
The 300 independent living residents of Phoebe Berks and their guests love the table service, the open atmosphere and the ability to order drinks from the bar, says Jessica Pettie, general manager of dining services at the facility.
They also like the convenience factor, adds Grace Hoyer, Cura’s manager of public relations. “It’s in their community, so they don’t have to walk outside, get in a car and sometimes battle bad weather.”
The pub was intentionally designed to mirror the experience of a standalone pub, Hoyer adds. “When you walk in it feels like a Ruth’s Chris—upscale and casual at the same time.”
Pub-style games, including pool tables, baseball darts and traditional darts, are available adjacent to the space in a separate game room. And weekly entertainment by area artists and musicians adds to the pub vibe.
The pub carries a full liquor license and offers a full wine list, an assortment of beers and mixed drinks. Cura designed the food menu around popular tavern-style dishes and local favorites, including soups and salads topped with grilled chicken or shrimp, cooked to order pub burgers, Yuengling beer-battered haddock, sidewinder fries, desserts and more. Patrons can also order more conventional three-course meals from the adjacent bistro menu.
“We curated the menu to follow the community’s preferences,” Pettie says. “We’re also trying to stay on top of culinary trends, including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free.” The beverage menu also reflects residents’ preferences.
“We ask guests to fill out comment cards after each service, and we use those to improve or to thank the staff for good work. We also talk to our residents quite often to make sure we’re stocking the items they want. So the bar has beverages and mixers they prefer, and also some others that we’re trying to get them to try,” Pettie adds.
In developing the concept and determining menus, “the most important thing has been to be open and have those conversations with the residents,” she says.
A few design tweaks made the new space more accommodating to a mature clientele. Seating, for example, is easily accessible. Seats at the bar are slightly elevated, but they also come equipped with arms and comfy cushions.
The bar area stays open Monday through Friday evenings, but food is offered only on Thursday and Friday. Pettie says the eventual goal is to keep the pub open seven days a week.
At times when the pub is idle, Phoebe Berks’ clients can dine in the onsite bistro, order scratch-made pizza baked in a gas-fired specialty pizza oven or order pastries, sandwiches and egg dishes and specialty coffees from the mini coffee shop.
Hoyer notes that The Pub and other dining choices at Phoebe Berks dovetail with the preferences of newer senior living clients. “In the past, formal dining rooms were common; now, we’re changing over to appeal to the new seniors who are coming in and looking for something more casual,” she observes.
In its brief time it’s been open, The Pub has already grown to be a popular venue for catered events such as birthday and anniversary parties, bridal or baby showers. The space can be closed off to create a more intimate atmosphere for private parties.
The Pub serves a number of key functions for Phoebe Berks. “The Pub helps diversify our unique dining portfolio and lets our residents connect with their guests and each other in a safe place,” Pettie says.