Nathan Rihm has lived and worked all over the globe — managing dining halls on cruise ships and yachts, in hotels and breweries. But, with that line of work, the customers are always changing. There’s no chance to develop relationships with regulars, to connect on a deeper level.
In mid-September, Rihm became Ardenwoods’ new food and beverage director, managing both front-of-house and back-of-house staff and ensuring dining services run smoothly and safely, delivering meals of the highest quality. He said he’s thrilled to take on this new role for many reasons. For one, though it may be different than his most recent job, where he managed a brewery, that’s exactly the kind of change he had been looking for.
“My favorite part is that I get to serve the same people all the time and really impact people’s lives, instead of just their evenings or week while on vacation,” he said. “And all the residents have been wonderful to me. They’ve been so welcoming and engaging, and I’ve felt welcomed in like a member of the family.”
In addition to meeting and developing personal connections with the residents and other staff members, Rihm said he’s fallen in love with the mountains in the few short months he’s lived in the area.
“Ardenwoods is such a beautiful place, with such a sense of community,” he explained. “I moved here for the mountains and all the outdoor recreation opportunities. My fiancée and I love to hike and get outdoors, so we’ve traveled through the area a number of times and visited places like Lake Jocassee [in Upstate South Carolina] and hiked all over the area.”
In addition to the scenery, he added, the region is not all that far from his home state of Indiana, making it relatively easy to drive home and see family — or easier than it was when he lived in Hawaii and the Virgin Islands, anyway.
When asked about his goals as Ardenwoods’ new food and beverage director, he said he aspires to provide each resident with an elevated dining experience, to continue improving food quality and service, and to always look for ways to improve the quality of life for his new, extended “family” in whatever ways possible.
“Honestly, customer service has always been a big passion of mine,” he said. “I really enjoy working with people. It’s important to me to have work that allows me to be social, so that’s what brought me to Ardenwoods. I just want the residents to know that I’m always here to engage with them — that they’re more than welcome to approach me, and that I always greatly enjoy hearing their stories. Being part of this community is my favorite part of the position.”
When Rihm isn’t on-site at Ardenwoods, he’s likely to be found in the Blue Ridge Mountains, hiking a scenic ridge, kayaking, hunting or fishing. He’s also passionate about volunteering, and, being new to the area, he’s interested in finding the right organization to dedicate his spare time.