With a restaurant operations and training background, Dining Services Director Jess Dwyer has found a new calling in her hospitality career at Brightview Sayville.
Jess first started working in restaurants in college while working toward an education degree. However, she soon fell in love with the hospitality business. “It teaches you about business, leadership, everything,” Jess said.
After working as a server, Jess infused her love of teaching with the restaurant business and became a manager for OSI Restaurant Partners. She traveled the East Coast opening Outback Steakhouse restaurants, and after 9 years, moved into corporate training. “It was amazing but tiring,” Jess said.
With her vast experience, Jess was recruited by another senior living company in Manhattan. She made the move to senior living and loved her experience working there for five years. However, the long commute from Long Island to Manhattan was wearing on Jess, so she started searching for a company and closer community that she loved.
When Jess had the opportunity to join and open the Brightview Sayville community on Long Island in February 2020, she jumped at the chance. “A big part of my background is in training, so having the opportunity to hire and help train again was a big draw,” she said. “I also had a lot of conversations about how Brightview supports women and growth opportunities. I felt like I could grow with the company.”
After opening and quickly pivoting due to the onset of the pandemic, Jess remains impressed with her entire team. She takes any opportunity she can to coach her team, and if needed, she rolls up her sleeves to help out on the cooking line, serving, or washing dishes. “The Sayville dining team is the best team I’ve ever worked with,” she said. “You need the whole experience – great systems, great good, and great servers – to capture the best experience of hospitality.”
For the residents of Brightview Sayville, rack of lamb is a favorite dish. “When rack of lamb is on the menu, you know we will have a full house,” Jess laughed. Lobster mac and cheese and the executive chef’s special spicy seafood pasta are also popular. Plus, the residents love a treat to satisfy their sweet tooth, and they will jump at any chance to have a great party!
Interacting with the residents in the dining room is Jess’s favorite time of the day. The residents are as concerned about her life as much as she is about there’s. They ask her for updates about her son’s football team and pass on coloring books for her children, too.
“I love everything about the residents,” Jess said. “It’s so important that we understand that we are in their homes and part of their everyday lives. I always say, the restaurant business taught me how to be a great operator, and senior living taught me how to be a great hospitality professional.”
The feeling is mutual among the entire Dining Services team at Brightview Sayville as they work to create a sense of comfort and warmth in all of their dining spaces. “I have said some wild things to these people, and my kitchen and culinary staff have never once said no. They will do anything for our residents,” Jess said.
Brightview Senior Living builds, owns, and operates award-winning vibrant senior living communities in eight states along the East Coast: Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia. We offer senior Independent Living, Assisted Living, Enhanced Care, and Wellspring Village®, a specialized neighborhood for people living with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Schedule a personal visit to experience our communities firsthand.