07 Jul Meet Larry Palmer, Mount Vernon Towers’ Director of Dining Services
Larry Palmer’s military background (he served 24 years in the US Navy including 12 years overseas) has served him well during his three different periods as Director of Dining Services with Mount Vernon Towers.
“The first time I came on board was on Valentine’s Day, 2000 – when there was already a party on the books for 300 guests for the next week. I had to get organized quickly!” says Larry Palmer, who actually likes big challenges like this and has extensive F&B experience beyond his years in the military service.
During this first period of employment at the Towers, from 2000 to 2010, Mr. Palmer made some major changes in the ways that the kitchen functioned. “All condominiums here have electric ranges, so I felt that it was important to convert the main kitchen to gas stoves – with just a small generator added, so that we could always provide warm meals, even if there was a power failure,” he explains.
“Most of our residents enjoy their meals in our Dining Room. They count on us to keep operating, even if the weather is a mess. And I am happy to say that our advance planning has paid off – even during winter storms that lasted a number of days and caused havoc all over the city, we have always been able to serve three meals a day to our more than 300 residents, without interruption,” according to Mr. Palmer.
On average, Mr. Palmer and his team, including Executive Chef Ira McClure and Kitchen Manager Eula Stewart, serve some 5,000 meals per month, not counting employee meals. He also coordinates the menus for the many special events at Mount Vernon Towers and is able to cater major (80th, 90th and 100th) birthday parties or any other family gathering hosted by the residents, in all some 200 special events per year.
Mr. Palmer and his wife of 37 years live in Hahira, near their three children and six grandchildren, but after ten years, the weekly commute between Atlanta and South Georgia became too much. Nevertheless, Tommy Miller, Executive Director of Mount Vernon Towers was able to convince Mr. Palmer to come back not once (from November 2010 to February 2011) but twice – the last time in November 2013.
“I work full time at Mount Vernon Towers, and then I go home on the weekends, to our lovely home on four acres with a fabulous fishing pond, pool and barn. Yes, I do stay busy – and I like that!”
Mr. Palmer and Chef Ira are in charge of the careful menu planning and budgeting that is required for a community of this size. “I never buy food items that cannot be used or re-used in multiple ways. We go through our purchase orders with a fine-tooth comb and negotiate hard to get the best pricing. Even when you save just 2% on food, that can translate into saving $7,000 – $8,000 per year.”
With today’s rapidly rising food and gas costs, his stewardship and keen business sense saves substantial amounts for the residents of Mount Vernon Towers. At the same time, Mr. Palmer makes sure to plan for a variety of delicious menu items every week, and walks through the dining room daily to get feedback and compliments from the residents.
The dining room is the heart of the Mount Vernon Towers retirement community. It is a great place to get together with friends, catch up on the latest news and share stories and memories.
However, residents at Mount Vernon Towers have different dining options: they can call and pick up their meal; meals may be delivered to their home; they can come to the dining room and go through the buffet line; or they can be seated and enjoy table service. Every day, except on Sundays when Brunch/Lunch is served until 2:00pm, the kitchen prepares four different appetizers, three entrees, six side dishes, two breads and a variety of desserts – including fresh fruit.
“I do make sure that our residents enjoy delicious, healthy food every day, and I could not do it without the great team and support staff here. Most of our kitchen and dining room staff members have been here more than 8 years, and that alone shows you that Mount Vernon Towers is a great place to live – and to work!”
To learn about living and dining at Mount Vernon Towers, please visit www.mountvernontowers.com. To make reservations for a private tour, please call (404) 266-3534.