Hip, hot cuisine

Boulder Meals On Wheels delivers energy and smiles.

Boulder’s Meals On Wheels turns the “silver tsunami” into a silver lining  |

With 72 million American baby boomers (birthdays between 1946 and 1964) turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 + a day, organizations nationwide are evaluating their readiness to serve this population.

One Boulder non-profit is responding by sharpening its chic factor.

Boulder Meals On Wheels has in the last few months completely revised its menus to please a more modern, refined palette.

“We’re not your grandfather’s Meals On Wheels anymore,” says Sally Sandoe, director of marketing and development. “Roast beef, meatloaf and spaghetti – these things don’t appeal to incoming baby boomers.”

A forward-looking group, the pros at Meals On Wheels began considering their menus more carefully late last year. They solicited advice from the stellar Vermilion Design + Interactive, an agency known for its creative, on-trend branding work with companies like Whole Foods, Celestial Seasonings and Izze.

Vermillion thinkers rolled up their sleeves and then got face to face with current and coming clients. Through focus groups, interviews and surveys they drew an honest conclusion for Meals On Wheels:  it’s time to drastically change the product. The stated goal:  foods that are fresh, colorful, flavorful and healthful.

“One shift in our menu means everything changes – from procuring supplies to introducing new recipes, production schedules and  even rewriting menu language,” say Ms. Sandoe

Undaunted, staff and volunteers undertook the challenge. Since a soft launch of new menu items in December, they have since executed a complete menu redesign and are serving foods that are indeed delicious. New menu items include honey-mustard glazed salmon, rigatoni with shrimp and arrabbiata sauce, Tuscan lemon chicken with pecan wild rice. Yum.

“The feedback from clients at guests at Café Classico has been overwhelming – and their smiles and delight are all our kitchen staff needs to keep going,” Ms. Sandoe says.

Sewing the seeds of the future, Meals On Wheels is next looking at a re-design of its Café Classico space, where it serves lunch on weekdays and Tuesday night dinners. Housed within the city of Boulder’s Senior Services Center at 9th and Arapahoe in downtown Boulder, Café Classico is a huge hit with seniors.

This time, Meals On Wheels took the outstanding designers and artists of 505 Design up on a generous offer to help. The company rendered an all-new look and feel for the eating space that will make it feel more like a restaurant than a cafeteria.

Right now, funding is all that stands in the way of launching the new designs, which include warm and modern finishes, artwork, paint and more.  Until then, Café Classico will likely continue to be a hot spot, hosting 30 – 50 for lunch on any given day (“Unless we’re having barbequed ribs, and then it’s 60 or 70.”) and 70 – 90 for dinner on Tuesdays nights (“Unless we’re having ribs – the it’s over 100!”).

Boulder Meals On Wheels makes Boulder a great place to live, and we’re honored to make the organization our Featured Friend for March. Read more about this organization here.