Location shift forces restaurant to adjust



Sophomore Jillian Carusone (left) and senior Luke Albanese (right) prepare lunch in the Warrior Cafe’s kitchen. The space was the school store until the renovation forced the restaurant out of room 108.

With the aroma of freshly baked cookies wafting down the hallway, famously crowded lunch lines and students busy behind the counter, Restaurant 108 has been a hallmark of the high school for students and teachers alike.
Along with this year’s many changes, the restaurant, under the new name of “Warrior Cafe,” is now located across from the cafeteria in what used to be the overflow and school store. At its core, however, the restaurant still remains a lively hub for the school community.
First opened in the ‘60s, the restaurant program is no stranger to construction. During the ‘95 renovation of the high school, the restaurant operated out of the cafeteria before moving to its location in room 108.
With the current construction, the original plan for the restaurant was to relocate to the Unified Arts building. According to Director of Culinary Careers Paul Carpenter, however, the new set-up in the main building and collaboration with the cafeteria has been integral in maintaining the program.
“We’re cooking in the cafeteria kitchen. Without that, we wouldn’t be a program right now,” Carpenter said. “We’re still here, showing kids how to run it. We might be a smaller business, but we’re still a business.”
Carpenter said that moving from its location in the now blocked-off hallway, the restaurant had to start essentially from scratch, with plumbers installing sinks and electricians putting in wires.
According to senior Zaid Shah, who has been working with the program for over three years, students have taken the lead in setting up much of the new restaurant.
“On the walls, there’s all of these signs and shelves and pictures, but none of those things were up before students took drills and put up most of the store,” Shah said. “A lot of the store has been made by the students, and I think that has formed a really good connection and a tight-knit community.”

Students wait in line to purchase food from the new location of the school restaurant, which is now known as “Warrior Cafe.”

Carpenter said that despite the challenges of having limited equipment and working around the new lunch schedule, the restaurant is building up its menu and system of production.
“It’s all trial and error until you get it to how you want it. Any restaurant chef will make a menu and fine-tune,” Carpenter said. “It’s going to take time to get to that point here, but we want to get at least the basic menu perfect.”
For Shah, working in the cafeteria kitchen has provided a unique opportunity for students in the restaurant program to get a glimpse behind the scenes.
“You definitely get to see a real-life cooking place. Our old place was run by us, but when we’re in the cafeteria, we get to see what other people are doing,” Shah said. “For the people who have never been behind the counter in a restaurant, I think it’s a good thing for them to see.”
Although everyone is still learning and adjusting to the new set-up this year, the mentorship between upperclassmen and lowerclassmen is still a vital aspect of the program, according to senior Cassiann Foster, who is in her fourth year with the restaurant.
“Even though it’s not the same as it was last year, we’re still doing our best to teach them everything, and they do their best,” Foster said.
Foster, who mainly works in the kitchen area behind the restaurant, is also trying to make the best of the space limitations.
“It’s a lot different because you can’t do as many things, but I usually make food in the little bakeshop area,” Foster said. “My favorite part of working at the restaurant is making the desserts for Staff Wednesdays.”
According to Carpenter, the restaurant is planning to continue its tradition of preparing Thanksgiving dinner and hosting Top Chef in the spring. Even with the drastic shifts this year, Carpenter said he still wants students to have a hand in running the restaurant.
“I want the kids to have the experience. Everything I do with these kids, I’ve done myself. I jump in and help them. We work together as a team,” Carpenter said. “The kids are very motivated in the program, and they’re doing a great job. This is their restaurant.”
For Shah, it is not the obstacles that define the restaurant, but rather how the team is able to overcome them.
“We have been able to get past the challenges, and I think the key is that we’re making do with what we have. You would think that going from a bigger place to a smaller place, a lot of things would change,” Shah said. “But the spirit of Restaurant 108 still lives on.”