Influx of diners hits Gateway restaurant

Influx of diners hits Gateway restaurant

Influx of diners hits Gateway restaurant
October 15
11:00 2013

Kathryn Krevo / Contributing Writer

After 26 years, The Club at Gateway Center restaurant is seeing a steadier flow of customers than it ever has in the past due to the closing of the University Union for remodeling.

The Club started in 1987 as the Club at College Inn, in the back of the residence hall. After 14 years, it transitioned into the Club at Gateway with the opening of the Gateway Center in 2001.

The remodeling of the union has restricted the amount of food provided on campus, causing a greater number of people to come to The Club. Restaurant manager Joe O’Donnell said The Club sees an average of 75 or more guests daily.

The restaurant has seen this number of customers before, but only in the first few weeks of class. Soon after that the numbers gradually decrease, he said. That is not the case this year.

The Club is a required course all hospitality management students must take before graduation.

“Without activity in the dining room, the learning objectives can’t be met,” O’Donnell said.

The course is split into two parts – front of house and back of house operations. Front of house operations include service, merchandising and marketing. The back of house operations include food operations and methodology.

“They get an idea of what it looks like to walk in the shoes of those who do hospitality, service work and food production work,” O’Donnell said.

The increase of business at the student-run restaurant this semester gives the students a chance to get more experience in a real-life setting, and further their education.

It takes about 100 students to run the front of house operations and 100 students to run the back of house. The Club is open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., with a new set of students running the restaurant each day.

The Club features a new menu every day with three different courses, including a salad, an entree and a dessert. The menu can be found through the CMHT webpage. However, diners can order things that are not listed on the menu, said Catherine Ryden, the YoungLife college director at UNT, who attended the Club last April.

The Club is based on constructive criticism. At the end of a dining experience a guest is encouraged to provide feedback.

Ryden had criticism after she had to wait about 45 minutes before her order was taken. However, her second experience was much better, she said.

“Everybody is prone to blame other people for why things are slow or why things went wrong,” Ryden said. “Blame it on the first-years, they don’t know any better.”

The Club is an experimental lab class, with the focus on students and what they can get out of it, O’Donnell said. The students are graded on their daily performance in the restaurant as well as weekly quizzes, a mid-term and a final exam.

Hospitality senior Phillip Smith said visitors can learn a lot during their time at The Club.

“This program is kind of unique in that you get a lot of hands-on experience in a bunch of different facets,” Smith said. “Every single class is geared directly toward the industry. When you get into the field, you will flow seamlessly into it.”

The Club has always been a key piece of the degree program at UNT, O’Donnell said.

The Club plans to expand into a full-service hotel and convention center on the UNT land near Apogee Stadium, according to a Denton Record Chronicle article on Sept. 17. Conversations concerning the Club continue and details are to be worked out at a future date.

Lunch seating is available at The Club at Gateway Center from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Monday through Friday at $7 per person. Reservations a week in advance are recommended.

The Club at the Gateway Center on North Texas Blvd. Feature photo by Tim Cato / Sports Editor

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