A look inside: Atria’s Haymarket Bistro opens to the public

Haymarket Bistro opened quietly about three weeks ago on the first floor of Atria Senior Living’s headquarters downtown.

“We are not trying to be the most special place on Market Street. We are just trying to show what we do in our communities,” Chad Welch, head chef for Atria Senior Living, told media during an event Wednesday morning to show off the senior care company’s new cafe. Welch has worked for Atria for 12 years.

The cafe serves soups, salads, sandwiches and personal pizza. Prices range from $3.75 to $10.

The bistro at 300 E. Market St. is one of 30 at Atria independent and assisted living communities in the United States. All the bistros are now open to the public as well as residents in the communities and their visiting families.

Some get more outside traffic than others, Welch said, depending on what is located near them such as office complexes or houses.

Insider first reported that Atria was moving its private employee cafeteria to the first floor and opening it to the public back in February. It employs four people to run the cafe and catering operations daily.

Bistro not only feeds people who live and work in or near Atria’s downtown headquarters, but it also lets the senior living company test out new dishes in a test kitchen before debuting them at its more than 190 independent and assisted living communities through North America.

“One of the things we try to focus on from the bistro perspective is trying to encourage the other generations of family members to come in, have it be a destination for the grandkids and kids,” Welch said. “Most of our bistros are front-facing …so it changes the feel when you walk into one of our communities. We try to make it hotel-like or more Starbucks-y.”

Haymarket Bistro serves some local items such as Please and Thank You cookies. Welch said Atria encourages other bistro locations to do the same but with something residents in a particular city enjoy.

“We ask the residents what your favorite bakery was, or where’d you go get muffins when you were young, or where’d you bring your family,” he said.

More bistros, all of which will take their cues from Haymarket Bistro, are expected to open as Atria debuts opens new living facilities.

“It’s meant to drive our innovation, create new items, stay on top of things, work on them,” Welch said of the bistro and test kitchen. “We are really focusing on the result of what we can get out of this in the way of innovation, streamlining production.”

Haymarket Bistro’s hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story included the wrong address. Haymarket Bistro is located at 300 E. Market St.