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New director of dining services strives to put out ‘perfect plates’

Steven Moses began working in senior living communities after a long career working in restaurants all over Wichita and Sedgwick County.

But he was already familiar with the environment, having worked as a “gopher” for a community in Topeka when he was in high school.

It’s the kind of coincidence that has defined Steve’s career. A military veteran, he got his first restaurant job at a McDonalds off base while transitioning to civilian life.

He found he liked food service, and in 1990, he moved to Wichita, where he worked in a wide range of restaurant kitchens, from Souper Salad to River City Brewery.

“If you’re from Wichita and ate out any time during the ’90s, we probably met,” Steve said. “You just didn’t know it.”

Along the way, he got married. His wife is a registered nurse, and together they have four children. During their downtime, they like to “chill and grill” and play with their rescue pit bull puppy.

At work, Steve learned something new in each kitchen he did time in. Food service, he discovered, lent itself to mentorship.

He remembers an important lesson he learned from a former manager: “Don’t be that guy who keeps what he knows to himself.”

“I strive to not be that person, and I strive to not let the people around me be that person,” he said.

He also learned the importance of maintaining a positive working environment.

“I try to nurture a fun and light atmosphere,” Steve said.

That helps prevent burnout and retain staff in an industry challenged by high turnover.

In his new position, Steve is looking to make gradual improvements to the dining services product and service standards. By the end of the year, he hopes residents see a marked difference for the better.

Ultimately, he judges how well he’s doing based on resident feedback, he says. Working in restaurants, he learned “the customers are your pay masters,” and that’s an attitude he works to instill in his staff.

“They might not write the checks, but the residents pay our salaries,” he said. “You have to put your best effort in, day in and day out for them.”

Perfection is impossible in his industry, but that’s what Steve is aiming for.

“Being able to put out a good-looking plate of food that tastes as good as it looks is always my goal,” he said. “If a customer tells me my plate looks perfect and tastes great, that’s my satisfaction right there.”

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