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Behind the scenes: A day in the life of a senior living café manager

senior living cafe manager in kitchen

James Acuna-Miller used to be an accountant. Now, he’s the café lead at Buckner Villas. Check out a day in his life as part of our exclusive look behind the scenes of Buckner senior living.

9 a.m.

As soon as I walk through the doors in the morning, I’m saying good morning to residents. They’re already bustling in and out of the café for continental breakfast, so the first ten minutes of my day are always several series of “Good morning!” It’s a great way to start the day.

9:30 a.m.

Once I’ve said hello to everyone, I start setup for the café. I turn on the machines, plug in equipment and make a list of what ingredients we’ll need from the main kitchen. Then I grab the ingredients and come back to the café to prep any grilling, set out silverware, freshen up the chip display and make sure we’re ready for opening.

11 a.m.

The café opens at 11, and I usually have a good rush from 11 to 12:15. I’m the only one working in the café, so it can get busy! We have about 30 residents who come through the café every day. Business is the life of a culinary professional, and I love it!

We run a different special every day, and those are usually the most popular menu items. We’ve had a Cuban sandwich, grilled chicken pesto panini, and every Thursday I offer my signature chicken salad. The residents love it! While the main dining room offers a full three-course menu, we give residents a more casual option with burgers, sandwiches and salads. I make a mean burger!

4 p.m.

The café closes at 4, and that’s when I take my break. Because we’re open from 11-4, I need to be available for residents to come at any time. Sometimes we have latecomers who had appointments in the afternoon, and it’s nice to be able to offer a quick bite when they’re hungry.


After a break, I clean up the café. I shut down the equipment, wrap any food and make sure everything is spotless for the next day.

Before going to culinary school, I was an accountant and worked in a cubicle. It was fine, but I like to talk and interact with people. Besides the cooking, working with the residents is my favorite part of this job. They’re a hoot and we have a lot of fun together! It’s a joy to serve them by giving them their favorite foods.