Family Owned and Operated Senior Living: What Difference Does It Make?

As is true in many businesses today, large companies are growing by leaps and bounds while the little guy succeeds by meeting the needs of individuals on a personal basis. Mom and Pop businesses are the heart and soul of our economy, offering unique services and support to our communities. 

Family Owned Independent Senior Living in Kansas City and Topeka

Whether we’re talking about restaurants, hotels, or any other hospitality business, including hospitals, and other medical services, the same is true; local workers make it successful. You can stay in a nationwide motel chain and find a clean and comfortable bed. Or you can choose a local one-of-a-kind experience, receive individualized attention, and feel pampered and cared for by the owners.

How do Senior Living business structures differ?

There are various types of ownership in retirement communities. Large corporate businesses like Brookdale and Holiday Retirement are listed on the New York Stock Exchange and have thousands of units across the United States. There are also many large not-for-profit communities like Lutheran Good Samaritan, Presbyterian Homes, and Bethesda Senior Living which have hundreds of units across the states. All of these companies are subject to the same rules and regulations required by local governments and national guidelines.

These companies all have business organizations starting with administrators at the top, which feed strategies and management plans to their units. Obviously, you would expect consistency and uniformity in this management style from the top down. Whether for-profit or not-for-profit, it really makes no difference; they are businesses that have to maintain the bottom line. Whether they ultimately serve their investors or other public institutions – they run big companies. Just like a hotel chain, they are looking for consistency and uniformity. 

Family-owned communities are few and far between. They tend to be communities with a much more personal, homelike, and comfortable feeling than a big conglomerate corporation. The owners are involved in the community’s day-to-day operations and are accessible to residents, families, and staff. This can lead to a more personalized experience for residents and their families.  

McCrite Plaza in Topeka was started in 1975.


Patrick McCrite started early in his life working alongside his mother in the care and support of Elders in her private home. He grew up in North Kansas City in the Briarcliff area and moved to Topeka after graduating from high school to play football at Washburn University. After his marriage to Judy, who majored in Special Education at Emporia State, they shared a vision to build a retirement community. 

Pat and Judy McCrite broke ground at McCrite Plaza Retirement Community in 1975.   Forty-eight years later, it continues to be family-owned and operated, and it shows!  The McCrites are Irish through and through. From the names of all of the McCrite kids (Katie, Cassidy, Kayla, Kelsi, and Connor) and the community neighborhoods named St. Andrews, Killarney, and Royal Dublin, to Pat’s Irish Pub, the theme is carried out universally. The feelings of a close-knit family permeate the community. 

McCrite Plaza is the only family-owned and operated retirement community in the Topeka area.  Pat, Judy, and their son, Cassidy McCrite, work tirelessly to have the most beautiful and supportive environment possible. The McCrites have built a successful business in an industry burdened by massive state and federal regulations. The McCrite community employs over 150 people and pays federal, state, real estate, and sales taxes to the county and city.  It is our priority to do business with other local vendors whenever possible. We are truly a Topeka-based business. The McCrite family is actively involved in the community and supports many charitable events.  The McCrite family supports the Cure for Cancer, Alzheimer’s Research, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Shepherd Center for Seniors, and Washburn International Student Program, to name just a few. 

The expansion of McCrite Plaza at Briarcliff is a dream come true.


Pat and Judy always wanted to return to North Kansas City to expand their business. In 2013 they broke ground for a full continuum of care in Briarcliff. With the help of their children, they enlarged their footprint to include Kansas City. After completing the 200,000-square-foot independent and assisted living buildings, they finished the community with memory care and skilled care.

Today, the McCrite name is thriving at Briarcliff in Topeka, KS, and Kansas City, MO. They have maintained their focus on being family owned. Not only is it owned by one family, but the family is onsite daily to create and control every aspect of care. Pat, Judy, and their children and spouses have impacted the community. Even the grandchildren are regular visitors to meet and mingle with residents.

There are basically four key benefits of a family-owned retirement community. 

      1. The management is in the building.

Just imagine what it means when the decision-maker is in the office in your building. You might have a concern or a special need that can easily be made in a conversation with the owner. This type of management differs dramatically from headquarters across the country. Unlike a large corporate structure, the answers are in the building. 

When Elizabeth decided to move to McCrite, she had one criterion that had to happen. She would bring her baby grand piano, no questions asked! She selected a floor plan that would accommodate the space, but all kinds of inspections had to happen to ensure the floor support would handle the weight, and the piano could be moved through the hallways. McCrites did everything to make her dream come true. That type of request would not go far with a large corporation.

       2. It’s like ‘Cheers,’ where everyone knows your name.

McCrite Plaza residents know the owners by their first names and interact on a daily basis. The McCrites know each individual resident too. So much empathy and compassion come from those daily visits to the dining room and other social gatherings. At McCrite, there’s a lot of joking and fun interactions with residents. Compare that to the CEO sitting in an office building miles from the resident that needs to voice a concern. 

Pat McCrite is famous for sharing jokes with the residents. He regularly drops by the men’s coffee group to tell a story. One of his favorite Irish jokes goes like this: Two Irishmen were walking down a railroad track. They found a bottle of whiskey and proceeded to get drunk. The first Irishman said, “I think I’ll buy this railroad.” The second one responded, “Well, I don’t think I’ll sell it to you!” It always ends with much laughter. 

        3. When staff is empowered by management, they are happier. 

It is important for staff too to be able to speak directly to ownership. Staff members are on the front lines of care, and they can easily communicate with the administration when they observe various changes in behavior. The McCrite style is just more hands-on. There is nothing better than happy staff and happy residents. It means a lot to staff to interact with owners.

An annual tradition at McCrite Plaza in both Topeka and Briarcliff is the awarding of “the Best Darn Kid Scholarship.” One or more of the staff members’ children applies and receives a scholarship to continue their education. This is such a big motivator and creates so much goodwill between the staff and ownership. 

       4. Pricing is managed on the local level.

Large retirement chains have uniform pricing, while family-owned communities have more flexibility. Frequently there are specials offered for new move-ins. On occasion, there are exceptions made in special cases. Financial needs are important conversations that can happen with ownership. 

In both Topeka and Kansas City, the McCrite family is a part of the neighborhood. They live and work in both Topeka and KC. Their grandkids go to local schools. Whenever possible, they do business with local vendors and are active citizens in the community. They are directly connected to local hospitals, hospice organizations, and other senior services. They are members of the Chamber of Commerce and have been nominated yearly for the Best Retirement Communities in the area. 

Understanding the different business organizational plans is possible, but you can feel it when you go for a tour. You can meet the owners, ask your questions, and know you’ll get straight answers. It is one thing to trust a brochure to tell you about a company, but it is a different experience to talk to the owner who has built it with their own hands.

Call us in Briarcliff-Kansas City at (816) 888-7930 or (785) 267-2960 in Topeka, or complete the contact form to schedule a tour and see everything available to make life exciting for your future!

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