Three Dining Options Now Available on Ocean Campus

By Emma Pratt

Part of the Smith Hall cafeteria is open for business, operating as a bustling restaurant, complete with red gingham table coverings and a busy crew of student chefs who roll dough in the open kitchen and serve orders from a counter-style service.

The dining services now available at Ocean Campus include the culinary arts department’s restaurants CurryAhhCity and Chef’s Table as well as the independently-run cafe, The Lunchbox.

Students in the culinary arts department operate CurryAhhCity, instructed by Vince Paratore. The concept-style quick-service restaurant offers curries and a daily changing menu of hot foods made and served by culinary arts students in the quick-service area of the Smith Hall cafeteria. A grab-and-go fridge also offers foods prepared and pre-packaged by students.

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The culinary arts department will offer CurryAhhCity throughout the fall and spring semesters and close during the summer, in time for a new concept restaurant to open next fall.

CurryAhhCity opened on Oct. 25 and is open weekly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The culinary arts department also hosts breakfast in the CurryAhhCity restaurant on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., offering pastries and other items made by students daily.

Photo by Ann Marie Galvan/The Guardsman

Paratore said students received special curry cooking lessons from culinary arts department alumni in preparation for the opening of CurryAhhCity, “people have been looking forward to us opening and we have been really popular,” he said.

On opening day, student chefs served 70 customers which resulted in a line out the door. Paratore said the daily customer count in previous concept restaurants has been between 30 to 80 people, including City College staff, students, and the public.

Photo by Ann Marie Galvan/The Guardsman

Jennifer Manongdo, an instructor in the psychology department, said she used to dine in the culinary arts concept restaurant once or twice a week before it closed during the pandemic. Now that it’s open again, she said, “I think it’s affordable, I think the quality is good, the portions are a good size, and it seems really fresh.”

Also serving City College staff, students, and the public, is Chef’s Table, the culinary arts department fine dining restaurant, open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on a reservation or walk-in basis.

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Chef’s Table is also operated by students, where culinary arts students are cooking and serving food in a fine dining setting, located in the Statler wing of Smith Hall.

Both Chef’s Table and CurryAhhCity accept Visa, Mastercard, Apple Pay, and cash as payment types. CurryAhhCity also accepts meal vouchers as a form of payment, given to students through the Homeless At-Risk Transitional Students (HARTS) Program.

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The HARTS program provides support services, such as priority registration, on-campus shower access, referrals to local homeless service providers, and discounted monthly transportation passes, to students who are experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessnes. The program aims to minimize academic barriers and increase access to education for students.

Curries in the CurryAhhCity restaurant are priced at around $7. The cost of a full meal at CurryAhhCity remains low to ensure customers eat at the restaurant and students get adequate cooking experience. Paratore said, “the students need the practice, this isn’t a business, this is a school.”

At Chef’s Table, prices are also low, currently at $13 for the entree. Despite these prices, the students in both restaurants are getting a real-world experience in terms of serving paying customers.

Instructor Chris Johnson said that one of the struggles at Chef’s Table is that the City College community is not aware that the restaurant is available to them. He said, “students walk up to the door and think ‘oh, this is too special for us. Can we eat here?’ They don’t recognize it as a class.” When customers dine at either CurryAhhCity or Chef’s Table, they are participating in the lab portion of a culinary arts class.

The Lunchbox is open on the Ocean Campus Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and is a family run business.

Photo by Ann Marie Galvan/The Guardsman

The manager at The Lunchbox, Danny Chin, offers a special Malaysian curry puff made with a recipe his mom passed down to him. He said, “you can’t get this anywhere else.” The Lunchbox offers hot food to go, snacks, sandwiches, pastries, and beverages, with outside seating available.

During the summer semester, The Lunchbox opened for a period of time but had to close because there weren’t enough people on campus to serve. The Lunchbox opened again in August, though Chin said business remains slow.

CurryAhhCity, Chef’s Table, and The Lunchbox are expecting that as students return to in-person classes on the Ocean Campus, particularly in the spring semester, their services will increase.

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