Students at Richmond High School are preparing something special for the Richmond community this spring as culinary arts classes prepare to open the Blue Devil Café.
Chef Christine Garand, who teaches culinary arts at Richmond High School, said the cafe will host a soft opening on March 17 for district staff and is expected to open to the public in May. May opening dates and times will be available on Facebook at facebook.com/RCSDBlueDevils/.
“At the moment we plan to test it,” Garand said.
The trial period will help students get used to operating the cafe, which is expected to open a few weeks before the end of this school year, Garand confirmed. The cafe will have its own private entrance to Richmond High School, located at 35320 Division Road in Richmond. Garand said on March 4 that the cafe’s sign had just been installed the last week of February. Currently, the cafe will be open to district staff on Thursdays and Fridays only during high school meal times.
“On the 17th, we make the menu like a St. Patrick’s Day menu,” Garand said.
The cafe was originally scheduled to open before the onset of COVID-19, but due to the pandemic and related restrictions the opening was delayed. Garand, who started teaching in the Richmond Community Schools District in September this school year, said it fell to him to open the cafe after the former instructor left.
“As I’m here now, I can open it and I’m so excited,” Garand said. “Coffee was discussed when I was hired. This has always been a vision of the principal and superintendent of high school and curriculum here. I’m super excited to see it through. Children really do everything at this stage.
Garand said she served as a guide in selecting menu items and setting up a point-of-sale system for students to accept payments from customers and track sales. She said students have learned menu planning throughout the school year and while all students will be trained to use the POS system, it will primarily be used by people in jobs. of management.
“Eventually they will be almost completely alone,” Garand said.
She plans to hold student interviews for cafe leadership positions, though leadership positions rotate about every month. Students will rotate between other types of coffee jobs.
“It’s open to anyone who wants to interview for anything. It prepares them for the real world. Many students have already gone out into the community, to restaurants. I have a few at the Hamlin Pub, students who work at Tropical Smoothie, Burger King, McDonalds,” Garand said.
Students will learn skills ranging from interpersonal skills to making reservations, waiting tables, making coffee and more. Garand also predicted that perhaps next year, staff across the district would be able to place delivery orders and students could make deliveries by walking between buildings. This year, however, staff have the option of take-out, Garand said. Garand planned to be able to open the cafe next year in December, giving students time to learn or brush up on needed skills.
The cafe will have a budget to work with, and sales will come back into the culinary program budget, Garand said. She also applied for grants.
Garand said students don’t need to take any prerequisite courses to participate in the culinary arts program, but those who take courses in the program are typically sophomores, juniors and seniors. This year, Garand has a total of 71 students in a total of three classes, with between 20 and 25 students per class. This year Garand is teaching two classes which are two hour blocks and one one hour block class. The program is generally a one- or two-year program, according to Garand.
“The first six or eight weeks of class, they have to take a food health and safety and sanitation course, which I teach,” Garand said.
Students who pass this exam move on to kitchen work. Students spend most of their time in the kitchen, but also receive lectures on different cooking methods. Culinary arts students recently raised more than $700 for the Oxford community with a bake sale, Garand confirmed.
Nicole Tuttle is a freelance journalist for The Voice.