Although guests can't visit The Statler's restaurant, students deciding its specials are still attempting to create the best experience for their customers.

Sun File Photo

Although guests can't visit The Statler's restaurant, students deciding its specials are still attempting to create the best experience for their customers.

September 24, 2020

‘As Real World As It Gets’: A Hotel School Tradition, Restaurant Management Goes Virtual

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For students in the School of Hotel Administration, taking HADM 3350: Restaurant Management is a rite of passage. Students spend hours in the kitchen crafting a multiple-course meal, taking orders and mixing drinks in order to bring their ideas to life.

However, the pandemic has completely uprooted the way the class is run this semester. Not only has the kitchen shifted to takeout-only, but Statler chefs and course instructors are the only ones allowed inside The Establishment restaurant.

Students now have to create their menu at home and supervise their night through surveillance cameras in the kitchen. However, they must still take into account the conditions in the kitchen.

“You have to think about the operations of the kitchen,” said Lana Wolf ’21.  “You can’t plan a menu of all fried food because the fryer will be full and you won’t be able to keep up with orders.”

This year, however, students also have to choose takeout containers and think about how to plate food in a takeout format.

“You really have to sell the experience because it is to-go,” Wolf said. “The dishes are going to be the same quality but they’re gonna be the same price too, and you’re not going to be sitting at a table with friends getting the Establishment experience, so that’s going to be a challenge.”

While there is a standing menu for the semester, each team of three designs an appetizer and an entree as the specials menu on their given night. Usually, students also create a specialty cocktail to go with their theme, but are unable to do so this semester due to the contactless takeout format.

The Establishment is usually open Monday through Thursday nights, but is also open for Friday lunch this semester for the first time.

The virtual setup of the class brings conflicting emotions to seniors like Wolf, considering that it has been a tradition for SHA upperclassmen for the past eight years.

“Usually your family comes up for your big Establishment week and you get to see all of your friends eating your food and it’s such a fun experience, so it’s kind of a bummer I don’t get that,” Wolf said. “I had been planning this for a year and a half. I’m looking on the bright side right now, I still get to do something and see my meals come to life.”

However, in an email to The Sun, Prof. Alex Susskind, operations, technology and information management, remained convinced that the virtual format is just as valuable for the students.

“Our students are being asked to adapt exactly like every other restaurant operator out there,” Susskind wrote. “This is as real world as it gets for them.”