By Sofia Lynch
There are many things that a college student has to worry about on a given day. A lot of times, getting a good meal falls to the bottom of this list. However, with Washtenaw Community College’s student-run restaurant, Garrett’s, this doesn’t always have to be the case.
During the fall and winter semesters, six classes of hospitality management and culinary arts students use their class time, spread across three days a week, to provide upscale-restaurant style foods to the WCC community and beyond. For less than $10, Garrett’s patrons receive a complete entree, with a starch and vegetables, made from scratch and made by students. Patrons get to enjoy these meals in the high-class setting, without the upscale prices, pointed out Alice Gannon-Boss, a professional faculty member in culinary arts, who was a product of Garrett’s, and WCC’s Culinary Program.
“We are totally state of the art restaurant setting which a lot of other schools don’t have. We have a designer set dining room; it replicates exactly working in a restaurant setting, like if you were to walk into a restaurant in Chicago or any metropolitan city setting…” Gannon-Boss said. “It’s hard to break through to students from other program areas on campus to realize it’s actually not going to break your bank and everything is made from scratch.”
When people dine in Garrett’s, they’re really dining in a live, educational environment, said Derek Anders Jr., a professional faculty member for culinary arts.
“(Hospitality students) are understanding what it takes to be good wait staff in order to deliver the food and customer service, and become really good sales people on the floor,” said Anders Jr. “At the same time, students will be in the kitchen learning the different aspects of flavor profiles, to the execution of menu items in a timely fashion for folks, to understanding techniques, and some of the science behind what we do.”
A WCC student staffs every job position at Garrett’s. Throughout the semester they rotate roles, giving everyone a chance to work both the kitchen production and service sides of the restaurant. This wide spectrum of duties is just one of the many ways that Garrett’s provides a learning environment to its students, while providing a dining environment to its patrons.
“All of our students who go for the associate degree do front and back of the house classes, so they have a better scope on how to be a strong team member when they’re out in the industry, and they have an opportunity to actually be in charge,” said Gannon-Boss.
Gannon-Boss equated the learning environment of Garrett’s, to that of a laboratory.
“If you had a science class and you’re studying all these theories and you have an opportunity to apply those theories in your lab hours, this is the equivalent of those lab hours for our hospitality and culinary arts students to practice and apply their learning,” Gannon-Boss said.
Because Garrett’s is a fully-functional and licensed restaurant, students who earn their degree through this program gain skills by dealing with real-life situations from their career fields, like food inspections.
“Pretty much everything is a learning moment,” said 27-year-old hotel and restaurant management student, Andrew Williamson. “One person might point something out so we’ll kind of huddle people up and explain the situation and why it went well or why it didn’t and how we could improve it. It’s constantly a learning environment.”
On top of being a live lab environment, Garrett’s is also an American Culinary Federation accredited restaurant. This means that WCC’s program has met the necessary national standards of the ACF, and thus WCC students who gain their culinary arts and hospitality management degree, as well as their ServSafe certification, can apply for one of the earlier levels of ACF certification without having to pay for it.
When a WCC student completes the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Program, they have the opportunity to not only graduate with an associate degree, but also apply for the certificate of their major. The curriculum of the program also provides opportunities for students to acquire other certifications.
All these certificate opportunities add up; Garrett’s staff members walk out of WCC with a potentially hefty resume
“The idea behind the program having a fully licensed operational restaurant to the public is that our students are leaving here completely ready to be in charge and understanding the rights and responsibilities to that,” Gannon-Boss said. “…So there is less teaching that the employer has to do because we’re able to provide that for our students here on campus.”
Despite the gourmet food and career preparation provided at Garrett’s, the faculty still have gotten the impression the restaurant is not well-known amongst the WCC community and beyond.
“I participated in doing two news segments as a part of Fox 2, and one of the things we’re finding out was, I don’t think most people knew that Garrett’s, nor even the culinary hospitality program at Washtenaw, truly exists,” said Anders Jr. “I think we’re a well kept secret in the community that doesn’t need to be well kept anymore. I think we offer a really great educational experience.”
Interested in dining at Garrett’s?
The restaurant opens its doors for the last time this semester on April 20, so make your reservations at culinary.wccnet.edu/garretts or just stop in during business hours.
Hours of operation: Feb. 9 through April 20
Dinner: Tues. 5:30 p.m.-6:45 p.m.
Lunch: Wed./Thurs. 11:30 a.m.- 12:45 p.m.
Location: First Floor, Student Center Building, Room 132
For April 5 and April 12, the menu items are:
- Appetizer: Charcuterie Plate
- Soup: Wild Mushroom Trio
- Salad: Tuscan Pear Salad
- Entrees: Hazelnut Crusted Lamb Chops, Swiss Style Veal Scaloppini, Shrimp & Scallops Fettuccine Verde, and Grilled Vegetable Sandwich
For April 6, April 13 and April 20, the menu items are:
- Appetizer: Grilled Flatbread
- Soup: Shrimp Bisque
- Salad: Arbor House Salad
- Entrees: Garrett’s Signature Burger, Classic Club Sandwich, Braised Short Ribs, Poele Chicken, and Warm Wheat Berry Salad
For April 7 and April 14, the menu items are:
- Appetizer: Baked Cheese with Cumberland Sauce
- Soup: American Bounty Vegetable
- Salad: Fresh Mixed Greens Salad with Roasted Garlic Dressing
- Entrees: Sautéed Rainbow Trout in Pine Nut Butter Sauce, Boeuf Bourguignon, Spinach Tomato Lasagna, and French Toast with Fresh Bacon