The Village Café, whose primary customer base has been employees who work at the Milford Wellness Village, now has a front entrance at 21 West Clarke Ave., making the café more accessible to the broader Milford community.
Café operators and invited guests held a ribbon-cutting celebration to mark the major step forward. Milford Wellness Village CEO Meir Gelley said the change should markedly increase business.
“Having the door and the new sign right out front as opposed to having to go behind the building and cut between the buildings will let people know the café is here,” Gelley said. “Until now, people really didn’t know where to go or how to get to the café. Now, customers can order their food in advance through the Clover app, and come by and pick their order.”
Healthcare Services Group General Manager Joan Page said she hopes with more visibility the café will be able to do more catering. The kitchen that serves the café also provides the meals for Polaris Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and Banyan Treatment Center at the Milford Wellness Village. While the café has a small fryer, a grill and a bain marie food warmer, which is what customers see, most of the cooking is done in the main kitchen.
That means that in addition to the usual café breakfast and lunch fare like French toast, cheeseburgers, hot dogs and cheese steaks, there are fuller meals on a rotating basis ranging from lemon-encrusted tilapia to lasagna to General Tso’s Chicken. These daily specials do not appear on the app but customers can see them when ordering in person. Page said that will appeal to people who want to eat at home but are too busy to cook.
“There’s such a need for dual-income families that are constantly on the go to have home-cooked meals instead of fast food,” Page said. “These are dishes we could cook that day and they could swing past and pick up and reheat for dinner. That is true both for people who work at the wellness village and people from the community.”
The Village Café staff is well versed in the diets and texture modifications that some patients need. That allows customers to purchase meals for a family member who is on a medically altered diet that they either don’t have the time or knowhow to prepare.
Staff members, whose background is in cooking for long-term care patients, are especially interested in the prospect of serving a wider variety of customers. They are hoping with the new exposure they can cater events or dinners for the community. They currently cater events for wellness village businesses such as Aquacare Physical Therapy.
“I always had in mind that even as we served the needs of the nursing home and treatment center, we could provide services for families and seniors in the community, home-cooked foods, except we cook them for you,” Page said.
The Milford Wellness Village continues to grow, with complementary medical services continuously being added. The facility at the site of the former Bayhealth Hospital location is now 76 percent occupied.
Gelley said this latest addition may seem small in comparison to the larger organizations with space in the village and those still to move in, but for him, every step of the journey is exciting. “This new entrance symbolizes our café’s entry into serving more customers in the wonderful Milford community,” he said.
“I’m glad the café is opening to more people,” said Milford Mayor Archie Campbell. “This is another great thing for Milford. I’m proud of the Milford Wellness Village.”