The members of our culinary team – no matter which level they have risen to in the department – have brought their talents to Atria for different reasons. For Chad Welch, Executive Chef of Culinary Operations, one of the draws to Atria was the opportunity to keep expanding his culinary skill set.

Quality work-life balance

“A chef at Atria has the chance to learn different cuisine – what quahogs are in Massachusetts, or what a Hot Brown is in Kentucky, or what a Louie salad is in California,” Welch said. “All of our chefs have the ability to share input on the menus we create.”

Other chefs come to Atria because the culinary department affords them a quality work-life balance. Christopher Lyons, Divisional Director of Culinary Services, remembers shifts in the restaurant world where he’d stay past 11 pm only to be back in the kitchen again before 9 the next morning. At Atria, Lyons found a chance to work with talented chefs and servers, but also to maintain reasonable hours.

“I saw an opportunity with senior living to find a good work-family balance,” Lyons stated. “This is the perfect way to stay in the culinary world and also watch your kids grow up.”

Lyons discovered a much calmer working environment at Atria than what he was used to in the restaurant industry.

“If you’ve been in the restaurant business, you know that there’s always a fight between the front of the house and the back of the house. That doesn’t happen at Atria. Everyone here works as a team.”

Camaraderie and community

Those dynamics of camaraderie and community extend to the relationship that the culinary teams have with the residents, as well.

“Cooking is from the heart,” Linda Petrillo, Divisional Director of Culinary Services, exclaimed. “When I train people, one of the things I always say is, ‘Remember this: You are cooking in the residents’ kitchen and dining room.’ It’s that personal.”

One member of Petrillo’s culinary team is Marie Anthony, who is a part of the waitstaff at Atria Riverdale in New York.

“I love helping the residents,” Anthony stated. “You get to know them on a personal level – what they’re doing, what’s going on in their lives – because you serve them breakfast, lunch and dinner. You see them frequently, so you make a lot of friends with them.”

Asked if she would rather be at a freestanding restaurant, Anthony said she prefers Atria because the dining experience feels more friendly than frantic.

“It’s different than a restaurant, where you just go there and leave,” she explained. “Residents will sometimes sit and chat with their neighbors and staff for two or three hours. So you feel more at home, and it makes you want to come back to work every day. You wouldn’t want to miss that, because you put a smile on the residents’ faces. That makes your day go by with joy on your face.”

Lyons echoed a similar sentiment: “It’s really like a family here,” he said. “There’s no place quite like family that I’ve seen anywhere else, and I would say that for the residents, the waitstaff and the cooks. We treat everyone as a family member.”

Keeping the Atria family safe

Because the well-being of residents and employees is Atria’s highest priority, we are providing the COVID-19 vaccine to everyone in our communities. Welch received his shot in December, and according to him, it’s changed his life.

“My wife and I can actually go to restaurants and be around each other and feel comfortable,” he said. “And in our communities, our employees deserve to be vaccinated and deserve to be in a safe space with other vaccinated folks.”

Anthony was hesitant about being vaccinated at first, but now she’s glad that she received the vaccine.

“It’s going to benefit you in the long run,” Anthony declared. “It gives you a clear mind, so you don’t have to worry about traveling. I think it’s for the best that you take it. You’ll be safe.”