Our Culinary Evolution: Elevating Your Dining Experience
At The Arlington, we’ve always been dedicated to providing our residents with an unparalleled lifestyle, and that includes exceptional dining. To enhance our offerings, we’ve moved our food and beverage service in-house. This transition will provide an experience that’s even more tailored to residents’ expectations and preferences.
To drive our vision forward, we’ve brought two dynamic culinary talents on board: Crystal Thompson as our Director of Dining Services and Joe Lowrie as our Executive Chef. Both come with impressive backgrounds, extensive skills, and a shared passion for crafting memorable meals.
Crystal oversees all the food and beverage venues within The Arlington, from independent living to our assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing programs at Oakton Place Health Care Center.
With a strong background in senior living food service management and as a seasoned chef who once owned a notable restaurant, Crystal’s leadership is pivotal. One of her initial key decisions was hiring Joe as Executive Chef.
Joe’s journey from his native Scotland to The Arlington began with a cooking class he took at a community college after another class he signed up for was cancelled. He was hooked. “Food became my life, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Crystal was impressed with Joe from their first encounter. “In his cooking demo, Joe not only delivered with finesse and confidence, he also prepared an unexpected second dish. It was the most amazing tomato soup I’ve ever tasted in my life,” Crystal says.
Their collaborative efforts promise delicious times ahead for The Arlington. But Crystal emphasizes that this isn’t change for the sake of it.
“It’s important for people to know that we’re designing the new menus and the dining program around what residents are requesting. It’s not a cookie-cutter model. This is completely based on resident feedback.”
In our Exhibition dining room, Crystal and Joe have revamped the menu and format, increasing the offerings by 70%. In our more casual dining spaces, they’ve just launched a new menu with more selections.
Crystal and Joe stress the importance of personal connection with The Arlington’s residents. Both can often be found in the dining rooms chatting with residents. In restaurant parlance, it’s called ‘table touching.’ Crystal and Joe want to make sure every diner feels welcome and understood.
“The residents are basically a huge family for us,” says Joe. “We always strive to be better every day based on what they tell us.”
To ensure timely feedback, Crystal has introduced new comment cards. “They’re basically ‘smart cards,’” she says. “Residents have the option of just scanning a code with their phones and making their comments online.”
Of course, at The Arlington, dining is not just about great food – it’s about friends and conversation. “Our goal,” says Joe, “is to bring residents together with good food done really well.”
In line with this, they’ve refreshed the Sunday brunch, leading to doubled attendance, and introduced themed menus like ‘Prime Rib Night’ and Monday ‘Pizza Night.’
“We’re gearing up now for the holidays,” says Joe. The team is brainstorming festive dishes based on traditional favorites, such as pumpkin breads, cheesecakes and eggnog pancakes.
The Arlington is excited about this new culinary chapter and crafting dining moments that residents will treasure.
As Joe says, “I walk in the kitchen at half past six in the morning and walk out at half past six at night. And after all these years, I’m still excited to come to work every day.”