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GenSights - Making Boomer Magic

Sharing generational insights to help businesses make magic with Baby Boomers

If You Can Transform Fast Food, You Can Transform Anything.

Lyfe Kitchen Web SiteWhen it became clear that Herb—our 91-year-old father—had become too incapacitated to continue living in his Portsmouth, NH condo, my sister and I moved him to a nursing home a few blocks away. It was relatively cheerful and the staff was both competent and extremely kind. The only downside was the food. Typical, bland institutional stuff: overcooked canned vegetables, tasteless mass-produced chicken, you get the picture. Because we continued to spend weekends at the condo, we’d often visit with Herb at meal time, so we could keep him company while he ate lunch and dinner. On our way back home, we’d talk about the cuisine—or lack of it—and wonder how things might change once Boomers started needing that level of care.

I thought back to that time as I was reading an article about Lyfe Kitchen, the new fast food restaurant concept that’s the brainchild of a couple of former McDonald’s executives, including ex-president and COO Mike Roberts. Lyfe, which stands for Love Your Food Everyday, is out to radically change the way we think of, and experience, fast food. As writer Frederick Kaufman put it, “All the cookies shall be dairy-free, all the beef from grass-fed, humanely raised cows….there shall be no butter, no cream, no white sugar, no white flour, no high-fructose corn syrup, no GMOs, no trans fats, no additives, and no need for alarm: There will still be plenty of burgers, not to mention manifold kegs of organic beer and carafes of biodynamic wine.” (The entire article, entitled “Former McDonalds Honchos Take On Sustainable Cuisine” is available at wired.com)

Best of all, this is not some wide-eyed, romantic notion of how fast food should be. Writes Kaufman:
"The market research Roberts did at McDonald’s convinced him that mothers, the dominant decision makers about mealtimes, are more focused than ever on healthy food. So this time around, brussels sprouts and quinoa will enter the picture. This time around, the end result—the food—will look and smell and taste more like an entrée from some bistro in Brooklyn than a 30-second stop along Fast-Food Alley. But the process will be roughly the same, in that the problems of enormous scale can be solved through similar uses of technology, efficiency, and experience. ‘I would say that the pattern of this mosaic is very familiar,’ Roberts says. ‘The strategy of the rollout, the people and their skill sets, the systems of training and hiring and finance and accounting and supply chain, the development of the property and real estate system—they are all very similar. In other words, Roberts will take all the tricks he learned from old-style fast food and apply them to the next phase of American eating."

To a foodie like me, this is great news, and I can see that how, if the Lyfe Kitchen rollout is successful, it could also radically transform the way food service companies will supply their customers in the future—making organic, fresh, and delicious food available to retirement communities, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes like Herb’s. (Lyfe Kitchen hopes to have 500 to 1,000 restaurants up and running nationwide within 5 years.)

But the real take-away here should be that by applying tried and true business techniques, entrepreneurs can transform anything from health care to transportation to home products to meet the needs of seniors today and Boomers tomorrow. And remember, the 65-plus market is growing by approximately 10,000 Boomers every day; by 2030, that age group will be about 71.5 million strong.
“We’re in the middle of the first stage of the food revolution,” Roberts told Kauffman. “I’m dreaming of a place where science, medicine, producers, farmers, and restaurateurs meet to say we are on a journey together.”

How exciting if that kind of revolutionary spirit courses through every segment of business, making life better for us all as we age!

– Written by Lynn Schweikart

-posted by Laura Willis

Labels: healthy fast food, nursing home food, seniors, Boomers, 65-plus market, health care, food revolution