Sagewood senior living community, located in Northeast Phoenix, Arizona, is one of the country’s most beautiful resort-style active senior living communities. Sagewood offers an age-in-place community where residents can enjoy independent living in stand-alone casitas, villas, apartments or lofts, as well as take advantage of assisted living, skilled nursing, or memory care in the well-appointed Acacia Health Center. And under construction as of Summer 2017 are Sagewood’s newest residences, The Estates.
Two of the key components of Sagewood’s resort-style amenities are the dining venues and flexible meal offerings.
With 20,000 meals served a month community-wide, Director of Food and Beverage Services Michael Kunze and his team are always facing new and exciting challenges. “We write menus that compete with the local restaurants where residents have dined. But here, there is flexibility – whether that’s ordering an item with no salt, or asking for gluten-free bread.”
That flexibility and choice is a daily occurrence, and starts with a varied menu that can include anything from Mexican, to Asian and Indian, to French cuisines. “My chefs do a good job of utilizing a range of cultural flavors. I feel we are similar to the Fox Restaurant chain concept in Arizona – being a leader in the industry for service and hospitality, as well as venues.”
Michael’s background in resort and local restaurant hospitality lends naturally to overseeing Sagewood’s four, varying-styled restaurants. Venue choices include the Mesquite Grill & Lounge, Palo Verdé Room, Canyon Café, and Ironwood Lounge. Residents can also purchase grocery items and grab-and-go snacks from the Market.
Fine dining is a regular occurrence at Sagewood, for example, on any given night in the Palo Verdé dining room you may find a certified Angus cut filet on the plate of a delighted resident. They also regularly offer lamb chops, and filet mignon. A resident favorite this time of year are Sagewood’s scratch-made, chilled soups. In the hot, Arizona climate, a watermelon gazpacho, or pineapple-mango chilled soup make a perfect lunch.
“All our soups are made from scratch,” shared Michael. “We always have a no-sodium-added chicken noodle soup as well as other offerings.” Desserts are another resident favorite. “We do a Creme Brulé, a nice Apple Blossom – apple compote in puff pastry, served warm with vanilla ice cream, and a chocolate chip brownie served in a skillet with ice cream, chocolate sauce and caramel sauce. Maybe not the healthiest, but definitely a fan favorite!”
Michael said residents particularly enjoy comfort foods like corned beef and cabbage, the made-from-scratch roasted peppers, and the turkey. “We try to have a variety to meet everyone’s needs and tastes.”
Focus on Nutrition
“When a resident first moves to the Sagewood community we do an onboarding with them to explain our dining program and how our menus work,” said Michael. Menus at Sagewood change weekly, and residents are encouraged to provide input. “If they say they’d like Veal Saltimbocca, our chefs will consider adding it to a future menu. It’s our way of making sure we meet our resident’s personal preferences as well as dietary needs.”
Speaking of dietary needs, the dining team meets with Sagewood’s nutrition team quarterly to discuss specific topics concerning residents. The chefs then go back and tie it into the menu items. “For instance, how do we need to look at vitamin K sensitivities? We talk about diabetes. We look at salt – there are quite a few cardiologists in residence here, so salt is definitely a hot topic,” said Michael. “We always go to the underside of seasoning and use herbs and spices to supplement the salt.”
“With Vitamin K sensitivity, vegetables can become tricky,” explained Michael. “So we always try to have a good variety of red or non-green vegetables… roasted or braised cabbage, braised carrots. Our residents really like brussels sprouts as well.”
An example of a typical meal that Sagewood chefs prepare for those with Vitamin K sensitivities include a flatbread with tuna salad on romaine hearts with a couple of tomato slices and a side fruit salad. “Romaine is something someone with a Vitamin K sensitivity could definitely eat, and in our hot Arizona climate, it provides a nice, cool lunch entree,” shared Michael.
Making Dining Fun
In order to make the dining options and experiences unique, it takes unique residents – of which Sagewood has plenty! They are involved both within and outside of the community. Michael explained how this lends itself to some fun and engaging dining experiences for the residents.
“One of the really nice things we did this year was a dinner in conjunction with the Phoenix Symphony. Six or seven strings players came in and did a classical presentation that lasted about an hour. Then we brought our residents into our fine dining area for a four-course meal that was exceptional,” said Michael. “The whole event was driven by a resident, who is involved with the Phoenix Symphony, coming to us and asking how we could do a dining event with them. We served about 130 people that night.”
In addition to crafting opportunities around senior’s requests, Sagewood residents enjoy the impromptu afternoon gatherings, such as chilled coffee stations, smoothie bars, and a summer get-together with seasonal peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream. “We have some residents who are intrigued by wines and enjoy dining in a gourmet setting so we’ve also done a few winemakers dinners as well, which were very well received,” said Michael.
The Sagewood Difference
Michael relayed that in the regular hospitality and restaurant business, customers are always changing, so chefs and dining teams don’t really get to have a relationship with their customers. Serving residents at Sagewood is a completely different experience, according to Michael.
“One of the benefits here is you already know what your residents are looking for. You have a good starting point for conversation, knowing their likes and dislikes. Our staff has done a great job of reaching out to residents and understanding what they’re looking for. They can suggest things our residents would really love, or if they know a resident has a sensitivity to spice, for instance, they can feel comfortable saying ‘You know, I think this dish might have a little more spice than you’re used to and I don’t know if you’d really enjoy it.’”
Sagewood ensures a wonderfuly dining experience for all residents. To find out more about the dining options at Sagewood, or for general information, submit a contact form or call us today at 480-948-1398 or fill out a contact form.