Lackawanna College Opens New Culinary Center

September 20, 2018

SCRANTON — The students flipped omelettes and dressed a simple salad. “Grab the homefries!” “Plates are ready!” Inside Lackawanna College’s new Culinary Center, which officially opened Thursday, hungry diners waited. The two-story, 14,400-square-foot building at 409 Adams Ave. includes industrial teaching kitchens for the hospitality and culinary arts programs and new baking and pastry program, study space and a student dining hall. The building also includes a dining room that soon will be open to the public for breakfast, lunch and dinner. “Through the total transformation of a largely abandoned building and courtyard, not only have we created a beautiful, state-of-the-art dining commons and culinary teaching center for our students, we’ve begun the revitalization of a forgotten block of the city,” college President Mark Volk said during Thursday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. The $7 million project, funded in part by a $3 million state grant, allows the college to expand enrollment in its culinary program. “The building exemplifies the growth of the culinary industry locally,” said Stephanie Decker, director of strategic partnerships and the Kiesendahl School of Hospitality. “This building helps us meet the needs of the community.” In the industrial teaching kitchen, students will learn in an environment that mimics professional restaurants. For a breakfast class, students will arrive at 5 a.m. to start lessons and prep work, before the restaurant opens to the public. A soft opening for the restaurant, called the President’s Dining Room for now, is expected next week. Jennina Barrios, a 20-year-old Scranton resident who dreams of owning her own bakery, helped plate the made-to-order omelettes Thursday. “I love it,” she said of the new kitchen. “There’s more room for everyone.” In a baking and pastry kitchen, a dozen mixers sat waiting for doughs and batters. The new dining hall replaces the cramped space in Angeli Hall. Tiles made of recycled skateboards help give the new space an “urban” feel. Cooks, not part of the culinary program, serve made-to-order eggs, sandwiches and other meals. A chalkboard at the entrance shows students what ingredients are sourced locally. College officials said the new dining hall is necessary to accommodate record enrollment — 1,770 students at the school’s seven locations, which is a 10 percent increase from last year. The college purchased the Scranton Center — two office buildings and a courtyard in the 400 block of Adams Avenue — in 2014. Officials hope to soon start renovating the six-story building at Mulberry Street and Adams Avenue to make room for more classroom space. Lackawanna took a vacant building and turned it into an asset to the downtown, Mayor Bill Courtright said. “Look at this beautiful facility we have,” the mayor said. “We are going to grow with you, Lackawanna.” Contact the writer: shofius@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9133; @hofiushallTT on Twitter

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