By Keith Burbank:
Even before it opened for its second day of business Aug. 27, customers were lining up for the food at Dot’s Diner, a theme-based and student-run restaurant in Smith Hall on Ocean campus.
With red and white tablecloths, vinyl records on the wall and jukebox music playing, the restaurant mimics a diner from the 1950s.
Each year the Smith Hall restaurant changes its name and food to reflect a new culinary theme, such as Indian, Chinese or French.
Last year the restaurant served Mediterranean food.
Now the restaurant offers students, staff and visitors a classic American menu including burgers, fries and milkshakes.
A Dot’s Diner Burger costs $5.50, and an order of fries is $1.95.
“So it’s like having a new restaurant every fall,” Culinary Arts and Hospitality Department management instructor Vince Paratore said.
For students, working at the restaurant is not only classwork. It gives them restaurant management experience. Students do everything from creating the decor, cooking, serving and managing.
Jonathan Yuen was in charge of marketing and promoting the restaurant the first week. Yuen is a student in Dot’s Diner’s operating class who hopes to eventually transfer to a hotel school after learning more managerial skills.
Paratore said that he is there just to make sure the place doesn’t burn down.
“We have future culinary professionals running the show here,” Paratore said.
The diner gives students an opportunity to learn how to set up a quick service operation and manage a restaurant.
Besides being student run, Dot’s Diner differs in another way.
Food is fresh and made to order, right down to the beef in the hamburgers, which is ground in the college’s own food labs.
Paratore said the restaurant operations class of the Culinary Arts Department is challenging for students, but hopefully they are prepared to work in a San Francisco restaurant, which are some of the world’s best.
Dot’s Diner is open Monday through Friday from 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.