CFCC students bring “Our Place” to life, a student-run on-campus dining hall

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) – Cape Fear Community College offers over 160 degree programs and some overlap, allowing students to work with their peers in hands-on work environments.

Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts students work together to bring Our Place to life, the on-campus student dining hall that allows students to hone their customer service and classic cooking skills.

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Every Wednesday, hotel management students serve guests and handle household responsibilities while culinary arts students prepare food and take care of the back room.

“I’m making veal medallions tonight. Last week we made crab stuffed trout. We made lamb, whatever you can imagine you could get in a fine dining restaurant, we do it here, ”said Lawrence Guenther, culinary arts student. “In the kitchen we have all the tools, all the appliances you could need and you learn how to use them all.

Diners lucky enough to book a reservation pay $ 13 for a five-course meal. The money comes back directly to help fund the programs. While waiters do not accept cash tips, donations to their club are appreciated and guests are encouraged to rate their experience to help students improve.

“It’s something that I appreciate. I feel like, for the most part, that’s the best part about it. I actually like coming to class and stuff like that because it’s something I like to do, ”said Madison Brandon, hotel management student.

The student-run restaurant is a hidden gem for knowledgeable Wilmington residents and a hot spot in the campus community. Reservations filled up quickly when they opened for the fall semester. At the height of the pandemic, they were operating with a curbside collection like many other restaurants in the area.

Hotel Management Program Director Diane Withrow reminds potential diners that this is a learning environment. She therefore asks clients to be patient with the students. Withrow said they were facing issues similar to those other restaurants are currently experiencing, for example some evenings are understaffed due to student quarantine. Although they face challenges, Withrow noted that there are plenty of opportunities for students to graduate from the program, as there are many places in need of hospitality staff.

At the end of their particular program, students leave with associated diplomas or certificates.

“We are really learning the process step by step,” Guenther said. “Every little detail of what you do. Getting it right and doing it safely.

The possibilities of what they plan to do with their newly developed skills aren’t limited to working as waiters or chefs. Students have a variety of plans for how they hope to use their new credentials.

“I go to school because I want to be a wedding planner,” Brandon said. “I went through the process of event planning and those kinds of things, like catering, to get more experience. “

“My main thought was just to become a better cook… I never thought about really going to a restaurant and working in a restaurant, but the only thing that kind of intrigued me is the possibility of getting maybe be a food truck, ”Guenther said. “I know it’s very popular now and I thought it would be pretty neat, to be my own boss, to do whatever I want to do.”

Our place is reserved for the remainder of the fall semester. Starting in the spring semester, they will serve lunch for $ 10 instead of dinner. Spring reservations will open in January.

For more information on the hotel management program, click here. If you want to learn more about the Culinary Arts program, go here.

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