Pub to connect assisted living residents, town

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News,Business

TANEYTOWN, Md. (AP) — A new pub opened recently in Taneytown, but it's not where you'd expect. It's in an assisted living community.

Flick's Restaurant and Pub, which sits inside Lorien's Taneytown location, opened May 1 to both Lorien residents and the public. The establishment seeks to provide a location for community interaction, as well as change society's perception of nursing homes and aging care in general, Lorien Health Systems CEO Louis Grimmel said.

"Part of being healthy is being happy and socialization is a major key to that," Grimmel said. "Why should we associate seniors with bingo when before that, they were going to bars, doing karaoke, having a good time? As earth-shattering as a bar in a nursing home might sound, it's really just common sense. It's not treating seniors as Martians."

Lorien Taneytown opened in 2004. In November, the facility expanded to include 52 assisted living beds in addition to its original 63 skilled nursing spaces, which include both short-term rehabilitation and long-term care options.

And, while other Lorien locations typically house ice cream parlors in their buildings, Lorien Taneytown has Flick's instead, Grimmel said.

The restaurant and pub is not only a first for the Maryland-based Lorien company — to Grimmel's knowledge, there are none similar in the country.

"I see Flick's as a sign of things to come," Grimmel said. "With an aging America, we're seeing a 'new senior.' They're more vibrant, more lively. Places are going to have to change and respond."

Grimmel envisions Flick's as a place for Lorien residents to visit with relatives, to enjoy a glass of wine or to chat with another customer who might otherwise not come to a nursing home or assisted living community.

For Joe Tuminello, Flick's is a neighborhood hot spot — convenient to his house and, more importantly, home to a nice atmosphere.

"It's almost like a 'Cheers' bar," Tuminello said. "Everyone knows your name, there are plenty of friendly people; it's just a great place. It's nice for Lorien residents too, to have somewhere to go with visitors that isn't off site."

Tuminello lives in the neighboring Carroll Vista development, a 55-or-older age-restricted community. A trolley owned by Lorien runs from Flick's to Carroll Vista multiple times per day to transport patrons. Officials are looking at eventually expanding the trolley route to include other Taneytown locations and patrons of any age, Grimmel said.

While it may seem that residents would be worried about having a bar on the premises, Sharon May, the administrator of Lorien Taneytown, said there were very few complaints.

Officials hosted an activity group following the pub's opening to address any lingering concerns, said pub manager Stacy Buck.

In the meeting, management reiterated the establishment's safety and ensured that employees would prevent intoxicated patrons from "roaming around Lorien," Buck said.

"With anything new, there are worries," May said. "But when everyone saw it opened, saw the management and the clientele and got a feel for it, everything was fine."

Flick's is named after former Taneytown Mayor W. Robert Flickinger, a strong advocate for Lorien's presence in the area when the company initially expressed interest. Flickinger notably supported the idea of elderly residents being able to receive care locally, rather than being forced to leave Taneytown to receive rehabilitation or assisted living.

Bill and Margie Coburn, who have lived in Carroll Vista for almost eight years, frequent Flick's often, typically with a few neighbors, Bill said.

"It's been a blessing since it came here," Margie said. "It's so nice here, they treat you like a human. A lot of our friends come out evenings during the week to visit with each other and have a few drinks."

Lorien Taneytown has consistently sought to connect to the community, Taneytown Economic Development Director Nancy McCormick said, and the restaurant is another effort to unite residents and the public.

"When the owners of the Lorien first presented their plan, they said they wanted to be good community players and provide employment for locals," McCormick said.

"They've done that and more, and now they're one of the top nursing homes in all of central Maryland," she said.

Since opening, Flick's ownership increased the size of the staff, hiring a cook in addition to wait staff, in response to more than expected interest.

Buck hopes to expand advertising to encourage more community business. By the beginning of July, the restaurant could see additional entertainment, including a three-piece band, DJ or saxophone player.

Though Flick's is still "fine-tuning" the dining experience they strive to provide, their efforts are making an impact already, McCormick said.

"I was out there a couple weeks ago and residents of the nursing home and assisted living were sitting in chairs on the porch. They waved when we walked by and were very friendly," McCormick said. "Even just that is making them a part of the community and it's really nice to see."

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Information from: Carroll County Times of Westminster, Md., http://www.carrollcounty.com/

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