GRAPHIC BY ELSIE MCKENDRY
The mouthwatering scents of freshly made food from Restaurant 108 have long been absent from the school hallways. Amidst the many challenges brought on by the pandemic and school construction, the high school’s student-run restaurant has endured a long period of uncertainty.
Preparations for the new restaurant are currently underway, with plans to present opportunities for learning through revised culinary courses and a wide range of new food choices for students. According to Career and Technology Education Curriculum Coordinator Brittany Stevens, the school restaurant, with the new name Tappan Green, will return next year.
“The restaurant went on hiatus this year, in part because of the new space being built and in part because of a teacher’s retirement and the pandemic,” Stevens said. “What’s been happening behind the scenes is that a group of us are planning to reopen the restaurant with a new look and feel.”
Construction for the new restaurant space is scheduled to be completed in July of 2021, but students and staff have already been preparing for the opening of the restaurant in the fall.
Culinary teacher Elizabeth Ricardelli said Tappan Green will open with many changes, including a focus on rebranding.
“Nothing is a hundred percent set in stone. I’m excited for all the planning that’s going around it. I think that there’s so much we can do.” Ricardelli said.
Sophomore Martha Bialek is among a group of students currently helping Ricardelli with efforts to experiment with possible menu items.
“We are trying to make up new recipes for when we do get to work in the new kitchen. Every recipe is split into two weeks. One Wednesday we’ll talk about what works together, what recipes we think are good and we’ll test them,” Bialek said. “The next week, we’ll ask teachers if they want to try the food we’ve settled on to make. Then, they’ll give us feedback on what’s good or not.”
Other than the rebranding of the restaurant and a new menu, Ricardelli said the culinary teachers are revising the course sequence offered to students involved in running the restaurant.
“We are working towards creating a program where students can learn how to cook and run a restaurant, all aspects of it,” Ricardelli said. “We’d like to have the restaurant follow a pathway so that students could get the necessary experience they would need if they wanted to go on to culinary school or have a career in the industry.”
Stevens said the restaurant courses previously offered were very different from the restaurant pathway that will be available for students to take next year.
“As it has historically existed, the restaurant was focused on teaching students cooking skills. You sign up to be in the restaurant class, and you learn to work the point of sale, help customers, and make food,” Stevens said. “In our reimagining, our ultimate goal is to break down the wall between the restaurant as a class and the restaurant as a business.”
According to Stevens, the restaurant pathway presents multiple real world learning opportunities for students to expand their knowledge of running a business.
“We’ll talk about all of the things that real restaurants talk about in terms of how we’ll create a brand identity so we are recognizable to people in the school. Those are things we’re going to hope that students will help us with,” Stevens said. “We want to get students involved in thinking about the menu items we should offer, local vendors we could get stuff from, how to price items, and learning about trends in the restaurant industry.”
Stevens said culinary teachers are prepared to bring students into the fold of making management decisions for Tappan Green as the pathway launches soon.
“It’s been a few years since we’ve had a core base of students working there, but once we started to have students who’ve been with us for a couple years, we want them to show us how they want to learn from the restaurant,” Stevens said. “It’s a lot of exciting work, and we’re just going to take baby steps. Next year, you’ll see us open with a pretty standard menu. Then, each year after that you’re going to see us expanding.”