As part of the Advanced Foods Course, senior hospitality students run the Marriott Cafe in the CAE and prepare personalized meals every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Community members come to dine while the students take turns embodying different roles involved in running a restaurant.
As the general managers, students are in charge of the restaurant during the evening for an assigned day of the week. Aaron Crecraft, senior Hospitality major was general manager for Wednesday’s event called “A Key West Adventure” for the evening’s guests.
“We each have to do two meals a semester,” Crecraft said.
The students work to make this more than just a meal for their capstone course, but an overall experience. They choose a theme for their meals, complete with centerpieces.
Wednesday’s menu featured a classic wedge salad with blue cheese dressing. For the entree, cilantro lime chicken and shrimp were accompanied by asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes were served. For dessert there was Key lime pie.
“When it’s your meal, you’re the general manager and everyone else from your class is your team. You really get put into a leadership role,” Crecraft said.
Students have many responsibilities when managing. They buzz around the restaurant, preparing meals, asking for clarification, setting tables and creating seating arrangements. All to create a pleasant experience for their guests.
“The general manager for the meal is responsible for creating the recipes, costing out the meal, all things you would do in a real restaurant,” Crecraft said.
“We take reservations and people come from the community. Reservations go very quickly some even two weeks before the date.”
It is important for students to understand all roles in the team and be able to fill those roles.
“We are preparing for real life,” Crecraft said. “This is what I really love about this program. It’s hands on, experiential learning.”
As with the real world, things are not always perfect, so it is important for students to prepare for those situations.
“Things can go wrong and they do in the real world so we have to use our leadership skills to correct it,” Crecraft said.
“The professors and instructors, they’ve done it. They understand the hospitality and they get to bring that experience and give it to us,” Crecraft said.
Throughout the hospitality program, students are given important management skills. However, these learning opportunities extend beyond the CAE.
“I interned at Walt Disney Resorts in Orlando. It was a fabulous experience and has really helped me,” Crecraft said.
The hospitality faculty has established an extensive networking program to help students find real-world internship opportunities and jobs upon graduation.
“Be open to take on any adventure. It might be a great experience and broaden your world. You can’t be focused on only one opportunity. Hospitality has shown me so many things I never thought I would get into,” Crecraft said.