As the Bayview Senior Living Community high-rise in Seattle approached its 60th anniversary in 2021, it was definitely showing its age, so its board of directors embarked on a major renovation to update just about every aspect of the 10-story building ahead of the anniversary. That project ultimately involved refreshing existing residences and adding new ones—plus a new memory care wing—as well as updating or adding new amenities, especially in the dining program, which was supplemented with two new outlets—the Monsieur Pickles bistro and the Cloud Room Café—along with a complete renovation of the Terrace Garden dining room.
The appropriately named Cloud Café is a highlight of the building’s renovated rooftop, which offers panoramic views of downtown Seattle and the surrounding topography, such as Puget Sound and the Olympic and Cascade Mountains. Cloud Room serves as an alternative weekday breakfast venue to the main dining room with an upscale menu and 44 seats, 16 of them on an outdoor patio.
“If you want your traditional breakfast, we have it all in the main dining room,” suggests Director of Culinary Services Dan Galvin, “but if you’re in the mood for something a little more elegant, in the Cloud Café we serve things like French crepes, bagels and lox, special frittatas and house-baked pastries and croissants, plus espresso drinks.”
The Cloud Café breakfast service runs between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., and then the space is available for a variety of social activities. “They can get lunch at Pickles or the Terrace Garden and bring it up there,” Galvin says. “We also do happy hours up there and in the evenings we do a lot of winemaker and guest chef dinners.” The space also hosts celebration dinners, holiday parties and family gatherings when pandemic-related policies allow.
Monsieur Pickles, named in memory of a cat the community had adopted some years back, is located near the updated wellness center with its new indoor heated pool and new gym equipment, and serves a wellness-based monthly menu between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Monsieur Pickles offers mostly grab and go and serves as “a great way for staff to get their meals for the day while enjoying the residents’ company as well,” observes Galvin. The space had been largely unused so when the wellness area was expanded and updated, “we thought this would be a great central spot to put something where staff and residents can meet while enjoying healthy options.”
As for that menu, Galvin describes Monsieur Pickles as an alternative to the main Terrace Room, “so anything you get at the bistro is completely different from what’s on the menu upstairs.” Among the choices are fresh-made grab and go sandwiches and salads as well as made-to-order options like flatbread pizzas, plus homemade soups different from the day’s soups in the Terrace Garden along with customized smoothies, coffee and frozen drinks, and ice cream and frozen yogurt in cones and cups. Each month features a set menu augmented with daily sandwich/salad, pizza and soup specials. There are about a half dozen tables inside and an outdoor patio with some more.
In addition to cosmetic upgrades like new light fixtures, carpeting and decorations, the Terrace Garden was augmented by the renovation with sliding doors that allow it to extend seating into the lobby area to accommodate expanded numbers, such as on holidays. Also new is an action station complete with burners and refrigeration that offers special themed meals like a taco bar a “Night in Italy” or a “seafood shack” where diners can walk up and get something made to order.
“It’s really been the biggest fun addition to our dining venue,” Galvin remarks. The renovation also extended table service to the patio area during the summer for the first time. Terrace Garden is open every day for all three dayparts, with the dinner menu changing nightly but always offering three to four entrée options—one usually a chef’s special—with seafood from local vendors a highlight.
“I’ve been here almost 14 years and I’ve never been able to take fresh salmon off the Sunday menu,” Galvin laughs. “Every week, the residents look forward to it and it’s probably our biggest seller.”
The Terrace Garden lunch menu, meanwhile, changes weekly but always has over a dozen choices, including two or three salad options with organic, locally sourced ingredients. Local sourcing also involves getting produce from a greenhouse that opened on the Terrace Garden patio and will eventually also include the bounty from an herb garden being built on the roof near the Cloud Café. Both are tended in part by residents as well as staff.
“Involving our residents in our culinary program is something we definitely want to emphasize and do more of as we go forward,” Galvin remarks.
Breakfast at Terrace Garden offers an expansive selection of traditional favorites ranging from waffles and French toast to eggs Benedict and “eggs a hundred ways” supplemented with plenty of fresh fruits
“We really want to be a culinary destination for residents to come to,” Galvin emphasizes, noting that the program must compete for residents’ dining dollars with numerous commercial restaurants located nearby as Bayview sits in the middle of Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood, near the iconic Space Needle, the Seattle Center and the new Climate Pledge Arena.
“We encourage our residents to enjoy the neighborhood they’re in, we want them to get out and go to other places,” Galvin offers, noting that the Bayview dining program for independent living residents operates on a commercial basis that doesn’t tie residents to the onsite options, so it must compete aggressively for business. “Selfishly, of course, we want them to enjoy our dining options more often than not, but you really can’t avoid the competition—we’re in too much of a culinary mecca here,” he says, “but our first priority is to lure them to dine right here, where they know they can get a great meal with great service.”
In addition to these three retail restaurants, the Bayview dining program operates separate skilled nursing, assisted living and memory care dining rooms, plus meal service for an onsite intergenerational childcare operation for families in the nearby community.
The new memory care unit has its own communal dining space while residents in assisted living and skilled nursing units can get multiple daily meal deliveries to their rooms, though “obviously our goal is to get them out, but if they can’t or they’re not feeling well, that is part of the service here,” Galvin explain. “However, for independent living, we really encourage the residents to get out, but they also have the option to order room service for every meal every day of the week from the main dining room menu for a small fee,” though that fee has been waived since the pandemic started and has yet to be reimposed. The daily menus are available in both hard copy and electronic form—including on the facility’s own TV channel—and ordering is either by phone or online.
Pre-ordering is also available for every meal every day at the Terrace Garden but not at Cloud Café and Monsieur Pickles. “It’s especially popular during the warm months when people can pre-order, come down and get the food and then go to the parks near the Seattle Center,” Galvin observes.
The pandemic certainly challenged the dining team to maintain the kind of quality and choice it had established with its newly updated program and new venues, which was just “hitting its stride” when COVID hit, Galvin says. “We had to go to what I call ‘knock and drop’ service where you delivered meals you hung on the doors,” he recalls.
In response, early on the program developed distanced social events around food and drink to keep the residents engaged, such as virtual wine dinners on Zoom where the food and beverage components were delivered to each room in advance of the Zoom-based get-together. Later, as the pandemic began to recede, the Terrace Garden was converted to a food court style operation that allowed it to begin a kind of communal dining service while maintaining safety protocols.
“It became very popular because it let residents get different options and also do some socializing, even if people had to stay six feet apart,” Galvin notes. It’s something near the heart of the veteran dining director, whose previous experience includes F&B with lodging chains Red Lion and Doubletree, running his own restaurant for half a dozen years and managing the landmark Maximilien French restaurant in Seattle’s Pike’s Place Market. He initially joined Bayview as a consultant when the dining program was a lot more traditional and limited, but fell in love and saw opportunities in bringing his commercial restaurant background to the community, something that culminated in the new venues and updates.
“There’s nothing more rewarding to me than bringing restaurant quality and feel to the community,” he says.