Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

January 20, 2000

U of G restaurant wins inaugural safety and quality award

The University of Guelph's student-run restaurant in the School of Hotel and Food Administration (HAFA) is one of eight area restaurants to win an inaugural award from the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit recognizing healthy food choices, food safety and non-smoking seating.

The awards, sponsored by the provincial Ministry of Health under its "Eat Smart! Ontario's Healthy Restaurant Program," will be presented at a ceremony Monday, Jan. 24, 2 p.m., at the Riverslea Mansion of the Homewood Health Science Centre in Guelph. The "Eat Smart!" awards were open to more than 200 area restaurants.

The HAFA Restaurant is a student-managed laboratory-cum-restaurant, where undergraduates pursuing careers in the hospitality industry experience running a "real" restaurant three days a week. Student teams in the third-year HAFA 309 course are responsible for all the activities in running an upscale restaurant for a day. They pick the menu, budget, purchase and receive the food, prepare a marketing plan to attract customers, do the accounting and cost statements, take reservations, decorate the restaurant according to their chosen theme, cook and serve the food and clean up afterwards.

The HAFA Restaurant is fully commercial and usually booked solid.

Customers -- who come from Guelph and occasionally even farther -- are given survey cards after their meal to rate how well the students have done. Overseeing the students' efforts is HAFA Prof. Jeff Stewart. "The HAFA Restaurant is an opportunity for these students to put the theory they learn into practice," he says. "It's an opportunity for them to showcase their talents. They establish higher standards each year, because they see what students before them have done.

I encourage creativity and risk-taking, so that if they make mistakes along the way, they can turn them into opportunities for growth."

In the past, students have turned the four plain white walls of the HAFA Restaurant into the inside of an Arabian tent and a Caribbean beach. Parents have driven from as far away as Kingston to have lunch at the HAFA Restaurant when a son or daughter is on the management team.

"The core educational aim is to understand the nature of the work that people do on the front lines of the industry," says HAFA Director Prof. John Walsh. "First and foremost, we teach our students how to manage people."

Part of that training also involves learning to say "No" to the Director of the School. "Frequently I call down and am told that there are no reservations available that day," says Walsh. "That's part of their educational experience, learning to turn down customers who may be impatient or disappointed. Our students learn to be firm but professional and courteous. It's ideal training for the real world."

For more information, contact Prof. Jeff Stewart at 519-824-4120, Ext. 3979. Media questions to Alex Wooley, Communications and Public Affairs, 519-824-4120, Ext. 6982.

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