The dining and kitchen area of the clubhouse will be totally renovated.

FULLERTON, CA—Morningside of Fullerton, a continuing-care retirement community here, is undergoing an extensive renovation of its clubhouse dining facilities. The 13,500-square-foot dining and kitchen area, which encompasses the entire downstairs space of the community’s clubhouse, will be totally reimagined as part of a national trend toward cozier, more-casual dining for seniors, and has learned that total renovation costs are estimated to be $2.5 million.

Irvine-based KTGY Group Inc. designed the renovations, and Justin Wilson III, managing partner for Morningside, is overseeing them. Marina del Rey-based Cole Martinez Curtis and Associates is handling the interior design, while Irvine-based Culp Construction Co. is handling general contracting services. The renovations will be conducted in four phases in order to minimize disruption to the current dining service, with completion of all phases anticipated for late summer.

The new facilities will include an expanded “Pacific Lounge,” featuring a brick-oven pizzeria, casual wine bar, TV screens and chefs cooking in an open kitchen concept; a “Napa Room,” offering themed private dining in a wine-cellar décor for a cozier experience, catering to smaller luncheons and dinner parties; and a “Grab N Go Café,” where residents can place specialty-food orders for custom-made sandwiches, salads and smoothies as well as desserts, snacks, soups, coffees, beverages and take-away meals.

Morningside will also continue to offer formal and informal dining options where residents can receive table service and order of menus that change on a daily basis. The formal seating area is being completely redesigned to make dining more intimate by creating separate environments with different interior-design motifs. The interior décor will also showcase a “soft contemporary experience with a blending of warm, earthy colors and organic-feeling materials,” according to the community’s management. Changes include custom-designed carpeting that gives the feeling of area rugs with many variations on the California theme and art pieces to complement the casual feel of the dining room.

Also new will be the Club Room in the formal-dining area featuring an elegant interior with all-glass double doors and nautical-themed wall art. The room will be available for special occasions such as family birthday celebrations and anniversaries.

Another new element will be booth, or banquette, seating that wraps around the bottom level of the stairwell leading up to the main upper level promenade reception area by way of a three-story-high atrium. Morningside will also expand its outdoor patio and garden dining areas by extending patio covers and awnings.

According to Wilson, “National trends in senior dining indicate that people want more options than the typical, more-formal sit-down model with servers and menus. Quality, tasty food is hugely important for seniors living in retirement communities. Just as important is the option to dine in a variety of settings based on your schedule and appetite on a particular day, and whether you’re interested in formal group dining, more-casual dining or just a quick meal.”

The trend of more choices in senior dining is echoing the larger trend of restaurants replacing many retail stores as entertaining and gathering spots for today’s consumers. As reported earlier this week, Coldwell Bank Commercial Alliance SVP Jim Auther told us that older malls are being renovated and bringing in restaurants and entertainment uses,. “Fashion Island is bringing in a lot more restaurants on their pads. We’re seeing that to compete with e-commerce. Shopping centers need to be a place of gathering and entertainment for consumers. We’re figuring out a way to get consumers back to our shopping centers, and we’ll see a continued drag on sales if we don’t—this is standard around the country.”