From the Resident Advisory Council – September 2019

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By Bill Harris, Jr.

Dining Services Liaison, RAC

Based upon conversations with residents, I know that many people view their dining experience very positively. It gives many of us a regular opportunity to dine with other residents, make new friends and, at times, to share meals with family members and long-time friends. Serving as the Dining Liaison representative for the Riderwood Advisory Council, (RAC), I know that the objective of the RAC dining committee, which is made up of two residents from each independent-living neighborhood, is to communicate residents’ concerns and issues to Jeff Kimbell, Director of Dining, and/or to members of his staff. The RAC dining committee meets monthly with management and staff members of the dining team from the four independent living neighborhoods. This gives us a regular and ongoing opportunity to express to management what has been observed by the members of the dining committee or expressed to them by residents to help resolve dining related matters.

Over the past year, there has been an increase in resident complaints about dining. Most of the complaints have centered around service,  or lack thereof, especially wait times to either be seated upon arrival at a particular dining restaurant or, once seated, the lack of timely service throughout the dining time. We are all cognizant of this problem and know that it is more obvious in some dining venues than others. Management is working daily to address this problem with the service wait staff, servers, dining room managers, and supervisors.

When many of us come down for dinner during the peak time, between the hours of 5:00 and 6:00 p.m., we can usually expect to wait for quite a while. But once seated, we feel a sense of relief and look forward to an enjoyable and easy flowing dining experience. Unfortunately, it has been somewhat bumpy over the past year. Based on what has been communicated from regular resident focus group meetings that management initiated in all the different neighborhoods and what we discuss at our regular meetings with the dining team, new measures have been taken by management to improve servers’ training, including special weekend training sessions, where the students are brought in on their off days and are paid to participate in the extra training sessions. To date, many of us have noticed improvements in service in all the dining venues, especially the taking of food orders, presenting the food, bussing of tables, checking on dessert and coffee and from time to time, the principal server coming back to the table to check if everything is okay. The training will continue as new wait staff and servers are employed in the coming months.

Many of the residents have also noticed and expressed a concern of the lack or disappearance of restaurant managers or supervisors on the floor while dining. We have been advised by management that much of this was, and is, due to the unexpected shortage of help in the kitchen, especially chefs and line cooks. Within the past year practically every restaurant at Riderwood has lost head chefs, sous chefs and/or line cooks This may be due to anything from personal reasons or management determination that an employee was just not working out in his/her job, but the result, nevertheless, is the same for Riderwood.  Management has to find qualified replacements for the vacant positions and in the interim cover those vacant positions with existing personnel and/or adjustments in the delivery of dining services. For example, the Fireside restaurant’s recent temporary change from Signature Dining to a special buffet because of a shortage of line cooks.

Jeff Kimbell and our Executive Chef, Chad Wisner, have said to us that the Washington area is one of the most competitive markets for experienced culinary and restaurant management personnel.  We understand. Riderwood is not only competitive with the area wage scales for such help, but management also looks for special qualities in potential hires that will comport with Riderwood standards.

Finally, notwithstanding that, we are aware of the residents’ daily dining concerns about wait staff, servers, management and/or menu choices, the dining team is working every day to address those concerns and do encourage and thank you for your continuing input.


Financial Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is Riderwood’s history of Independent Living monthly rate increases?
  2. Which services and programs are included in the monthly fee?

Here is a comprehensive table of increases:

2001 – 3.50%

2002 – 2.60%

2003 – 1.40%

2004 – 2.10%

2005 – 2.70%

2006 – 4.10%

2007 – 3.30%

2008 – 5.00%

2009 – 5.00%

2010 – 1.60%

2011 – 1.60%

2012 – 3.50%

2013 – 3.00%

2014 – 3.50%

2015 – 6.50%*

2016 – 3.50%

2017 – 3.50%

2018 – 3.00%

2019 – 4.00%

(*2015 included two increases as a result of Riderwood Connect services installation)

The average annual increase since Riderwood’s inception is 3.34%.

There isn’t a strict “formula” for determining annual increases. In general, fees are determined by forecasting all operating costs (wages, benefits, utilities, real estate taxes, food, marketing, etc.) against the operating margin necessary for financial viability. These are prepared by the Finance Department in partnership with the Board of Directors, who ultimately approve the budget annually. Every effort is made to keep the monthly fee increases to a minimum, controlling costs to the best of our ability. It is important to note that Riderwood’s monthly fees are extremely competitive for the value provided.

Residents’ monthly service fee pays for the apartment home, plus these services and programs: dining plans, maintenance and repairs, Internet, cable TV, telephone, shuttle services, property taxes, trash and recycling pick-up, 24-hour security and emergency first response, landscaping and snow removal, utilities, and access to community amenities, such as fitness centers, creative arts studios, banks, convenience stores, etc.

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