San Marcos High School’s Café Royale reopened Friday and features a staff dining room and kitchen where students will learn to cook and serve meals.
A new culinary program will start in January and aims to bridge to Santa Barbara City College’s Culinary Arts program, according to Principal Ed Behrens.
“We already know there’s a lot of interest, and we live in a town with lots of restaurants and hotels,” he said.
Students can learn valuable food preparation, menu planning and serving skills that they can apply to local jobs in the restaurant and hospitality industries.
“It’s a perfect fit,” Behrens said.
The former Café Royale had its health permit lapse 16 years ago, and the area, adjacent to the student cafeteria, has been underutilized ever since, Behrens said.
Upgrades were funded by the school’s Royal Pride Foundation, which was recently established by Behrens and a group of parents and alumni who wanted to help support improvement projects.
The foundation is also raising money to paint the school and support the Entrepreneurship Academy and Health Careers Academy at San Marcos.
At Friday’s ribbon cutting, foundation president Katrina Etsell applauded Behrens for having the idea and passion to bring back the Café Royale. She added that the foundation is glad to have such a strong partnership with the district to provide support to students.
The program will be supervised by kitchen manager Linda Robertson, who will be a chef-mentor for students as they learn to cook lunches for the new staff dining room.
Having a staff cafeteria — instead of just the staff lounge — will also be great for faculty and staff morale, Behrens said.