If you’re looking for a unique dining experience, chances are, a retirement community doesn’t immediately come to mind.
But, several communities in the county have restaurants that are open to the public, with menus that offer everything from comfort food to gourmet options.
Here what’s you can expect at some of those restaurants.
HEARTH AND HARROW
Pleasant View Communities, Manheim
Pleasant View Communities, 544 N. Penryn Road Manheim, features Hearth and Harrow, which opened earlier this year.
“The name was chosen intentionally,” says Michael Kane, executive chef. “ ‘Hearth’ is a reference to not only our full-size pizza oven but also meant to be a reference to how a hearth can be source of warmth and where people gather together. The ‘Harrow’ is a reference to Pleasant View’s agrarian roots and our surrounding farmland and the cuisine’s emphasis on local ingredients. We consider it an upscale contemporary bistro/restaurant and serve American fusion cuisine along with traditional Lancaster County fare.”
The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and serves brunch on Sundays. On Mondays, it’s open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Having a restaurant that’s open to the public fits well with Pleasant View’s mission, says Jama Wert, general manager of dining services, adding, “As a nonprofit community, we aim to not only serve our residents, but believe it is important to engage, participate and serve our surrounding community.”
Since opening in mid-February, the restaurant has seen a steady increase in interest by people outside the retirement community, Kane says, and the customer base includes businesspeople from the community, staff and residents.
The biggest hurdle so far, he says, has been changing the idea of dining in a place that might not typically be known for its food.
“Our biggest challenge is breaking the stigma of going to eat at a retirement community for other age groups,” he says “Also, as any restaurant experiences, we need to offer a variety of options to satisfy everyone’s palate.”
Next to the restaurant, a coffee bar serves Passenger coffee, espresso, lattes, smoothies and more.
“We also have a beautiful patio with outdoor seating with firepits,” Kane says, adding that the restaurant also does catering and offers online and to-go ordering.
OWL’S NEST RESTAURANT & SIPPERY
Warwick Woodlands, Lititz
Owl’s Nest Restaurant & Sippery opened at Warwick Woodlands, 600 W. Sixth St., Lititz, in June.
“We feature farm-to-table food, using local vendors as much as possible,” says Bill Kehler, director of dining services. “We serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week.”
Daily specials are offered, and Kehler says he anticipates changing the menu seasonally.
Lunch items include roasted tomato soup, ribeye cheesesteak, burgers, pizza and “homestyle favorites” including chicken pot pie. Dinner entrees include salmon filet, North Carolina trout and an 8-ounce pork rib chop.
Having a restaurant that’s open to the public offers a way for the retirement community to interact with the outside community at large, he says.
“We wanted to reach out to the Lititz community and develop connections with the local community,” he says. “This helps us connect.”
Currently, the customer base is mostly residents, but the general public does come in daily, Kehler says, and the restaurant has received positive feedback from the residents.
“The menu is 90% what the residents wanted,” he says. “We had two focus groups of residents who helped us develop the menu.”
The Owl’s Nest also has a “club license” to serve alcohol, meaning it can serve alcohol to residents and their guests, but not to the general public.
OWL HILL BISTRO
Landis Homes, Lititz
At Landis Homes, 1001 E. Oregon Road, Lititz, a restaurant featuring public dining opened in June 2018.
Owl Hill Bistro, in Calvin G. and Janet C. High Learning and Wellness Center, at the new main entrance to the community, serves fresh, seasonal and healthy options, says Daniel McClain, director of dining services. It’s currently open for lunch but an expansion is planned, and the menu features salads, soups, sandwiches, rotisserie chicken, entrees, wood-fired pizzas and desserts.
“We are looking to attract future residents, but we are also open to the public in order to further open up the Landis Homes community into the greater Lititz area community,” McClain says. “It has been great to see local office employees and social groups choose to meet at our bistro, which is a central location.”
Opening a restaurant to the public offers a way for Landis Homes to generate additional revenue, he says, and traffic has been increasing over the past 12 months.
“With expansion into evening hours in October, we expect an even higher level of interest from outsiders,” he says. “The Pathways Institute for Lifelong Learning, in addition to residents, has over 100 people who live locally off of our campus. In the fall and spring semesters, many of those students choose to come early or stay later to enjoy what the bistro has to offer. It is located in the same area.”
The restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings.
and THE ROUND
Luther Acres, Lititz
At Luther Acres, 600 E. Main St., Lititz, two restaurants are open to the public. Katy’s Grill, which opened in 2011, features soups, salads, sandwiches and daily specials and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. The Round opened in 2016 and is a casual restaurant featuring a salad bar, daily specials, pizza and entrees. It serves breakfast and lunch seven days a week, dinner five nights a week and brunch on Sundays, says Craig Shelly, executive director.
The restaurants help Luthercare target one of its five core values — connection, Shelly says.
“As a result, Luther Acres opens lots of its campus and meeting spaces to the public, so it’s only natural for us to do the same with our restaurants,” he says. “It’s a vibrant community that’s full of life and options, and it’s another choice for dining in the Lititz community.”
He says the restaurant being open to the public puts an emphasis on staying competitive in the industry and focusing on quality food with great service.
“For example, we partner with Kegel’s Produce and insist that local produce comes first and out of area, second, in order to serve the freshest produce possible,” he says. “We also change our menus every six months and offer seasonal specials whenever possible.”
While the majority of diners are residents of Luther Acres, he says the restaurant does attract a wide variety of customers, including friends or family of residents.
“There are lots of business professionals who do business with Luther Acres that find it convenient to dine here,” he says. “I’ve even had conversations with contractors who bring their family members to our restaurants because the food is so good and reasonably priced. Plus, we’re next door to a new residential development, Lititz Reserve, and some of their residents have been dining on campus.”
Along with offering heart-healthy and low-sodium options, as well as gluten-free items, Luther Acres also has a special liquor license, like Owl’s Nest.
“Our managers and staff must undergo the same training as any establishment that has a retail license, except our license, which carries a retirement community designation, allows us to only serve (alcohol) to residents and their guests,” Shelly says. “This also subjects The Round restaurant to Department of Agriculture food and safety inspections annually, and they’re published in the newspaper just like any public restaurant.”
THREE LOAVES CAFE
Masonic Villages, Elizabethtown
The Three Loaves Café at Masonic Villages, 1 Masonic Drive, Elizabethtown, offers residents and the public a variety of made-to-order sandwiches and wraps, smoothies, a garden salad bar and hand-dipped ice cream, says Greg Thomas, director of food services.
“Three Loaves Café offers an atmosphere and style of service where people can kick-start their day, relax and unwind with friends and family,” he says. “Customers order food at the counter and seat themselves. Among the two- and four-seat tables and booths, is a large hand-crafted farm table available for families or larger groups of people. Seasonal outdoor seating is also available, as well as small spaces in our atrium to read a book or chat with a friend over coffee or tea.”
The restaurant, which opened in 2001, is centrally located, making it convenient for residents and staff as well as families, guests and people who come to the campus for special events or meetings, he says.
The focus is not on profits, he notes, but on providing a convenient, quick-dining option and encouraging visitors to enjoy the restaurant’s setting in the community.
“Many people who visit our beautiful campus to enjoy the walking paths, formal gardens, wellness center, model railroad club and other amenities, as well as those who visit our residents, for Masonic and business meetings and events, enjoy stopping in to dine,” he says.
Also on-site is the Masonic Village Farm Market, which features pick-your-own produce as well as local specialty products such as apple cider and farm-raised dry-aged beef.
“Connected to the farm market is the Orchard View Café, which opened in spring 2015 and offers hand-dipped ice cream and specialty sandwiches,” Thomas says. “From comfortable outdoor seating, customers can take in the picturesque 20-mile view of orchards, farms, fields, cattle, woodlands and rolling hills.”
In all, Masonic Villages features nine restaurants on campus, with the Village Café, located in the nursing/personal care building also open to the public.
“Our restaurants vary by design and menu offerings, from buffet to upscale table service, and our tavern serves pub fare like wings and burgers, fish and chips and charcuterie,” he says. “In all of our restaurants, including the Three Loaves Café, we modify the menus seasonally. Each dining venue offers healthy choices, daily and weekly specials and a variety of items to meet each customer’s preference. Our employees are always happy to personalize orders, and every customer is our inspiration.”
THE HARVEST TABLE and REFRESH
Garden Spot Village, New Holland
Garden Spot Village, 433 S. Kinzer Ave., New Holland, features several options for public dining, including Refresh coffee bar, which serves Starbucks coffee along with breakfast, sandwiches, salads and more and The Harvest Table, a casual, made-to-order “action station” restaurant with an open-hearth pizza oven, wok, grill and more, says Scott Miller, chief marketing officer.
Additional restaurants at Garden Spot Village include The Terrace, a sit-down, tableside service restaurant that serves lunch daily and dinner some evenings; The Creamery, which offers short-order breakfast; and The Coop, a French bistro serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily with a rotating menu.
Miller says several factors influenced the decision to open the restaurants to the public.
“It was an outcome of customer demand (resident request),” he says. “Hospitality is very important at Garden Spot Village, and residents wanted to be able to invite family and friends to dine with them, so it made sense for Garden Spot to take a step forward and open the doors to the public. It has become a wonderful way to connect with the larger community and future residents.”
Nonresidents eat in the restaurants daily, he says, but the majority of diners are residents and their families, along with future residents of Garden Spot Village.
“It’s a pretty intergenerational mix,” he says. “Kiwanis meets on our campus every Tuesday for lunch and each person gets their lunch in The Harvest Table. Younger people and businesspeople tend to stop for Starbucks at Refresh. It’s not unusual to see toddlers or school-age children.”
Miller says the restaurants bring additional benefits as well.
“All the restaurants are open to the staff,” he says. “It’s a great way for residents and staff to engage and interact, especially in The Harvest Table.”
And, he says, it’s a great way to get the community into Garden Spot Village.
“Interestingly there have been visitors who didn’t realize that we are an age-restricted community,” he says.
The restaurants feature online ordering for takeout or delivery and house kiosks for ordering and paying if diners don’t want to stand in line.
“People can order eat-in from their computer or phone and specify a time when they will arrive at The Harvest Table,” Miller says. “Dining Services offers specialty events for all major holidays. They also offer specialty evenings like seafood dinners, ethnic dinners, steak nights, lobster dinners. These are special limited seating events that typically sell out. They are very popular. Dining services also caters parties and events. They’ll cater birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, high school graduations, business meetings, etc. typically on campus in the indoor Village Park.”