Lenoir Dining, located on the University of Mississippi campus, is operated by hospitality management and dietetics students. Located in Lenoir Hall, this non-profit restaurant allows students to have first-hand experience in their field while providing quality food and service for patrons.
While a majority of Lenoir’s customers are UM alumni, Lenoir is working alongside graduate marketing classes to attract a younger demographic, such as students.
Hospitality management Ph.D student and undergraduate student instructor Jeffrey Pittman ll describes how Lenoir dining aids in student development.
“Every student comes into Lenoir Dining and, at first, they’re scared. They’re scared that they may not cook as effectively. They may not think they are actually meant for the service industry,” Pittman said. “Chef Dru Jones and I always come through to lead and motivate them to do better. We never yell at them. If they do something wrong in the kitchen, it’s all right. We correct it right then and there.”
Hospitality management and nutrition dietetic students can take the lab NHM 472, in which they can gain experience before they go into the food service industry. In this class, they are taught how to properly and safely cook food, how to operate a kitchen, how to manage the front of house staff and how to conduct sales. Students also have the opportunity to create the menu based on what they would like to learn to cook.
Senior hospitality management major Julia Rodig is a server for Lenoir Dining.
“It’s really cool. You get to switch positions every few weeks to experience a new job,” Rodig said. “You can be cooking an entree, making salads, serving in the restaurant and even be the kitchen manager. You get a chance to work at every position in the restaurant.”
Since getting involved with the program, Rodig has been able to learn more about the restaurant industry.
“I have learned a lot more about what goes on behind the scenes of a restaurant. I work at a restaurant as a hostess, but haven’t really experienced things in the kitchen,” Rodig said. “This class has allowed me to have a better understanding about how much prep and work goes into cooking the food in a restaurant. This class has helped me learn more about the restaurant business and working off it as a whole. It has allowed me to apply things to my job off campus and gave me a better understanding of where I work. Learning from someone like Chef Dru has been so valuable because he has tons of experience and has been to so many places.”
Lenoir Dining hopes to expand its audience by moving locations from Sorority Row — Lenoir Hall is located in the former Zeta Tau Alpha house — to the South Oxford Center. This will allow students to utilize the large cafeteria and satisfy more of their market. This location also would allow easier access to parking for patrons.
Rodig also explained how much she appreciates the atmosphere of the restaurant in Lenoir Hall.
“Our class is fairly small so we’re all friends and work so well together. We help out where help is needed and really work as a team to run the restaurant,” Rodig said. “I love serving because I get to talk to so many people from faculty and staff to Oxford locals, and even my brother would come in and eat on some days.”
Pittman elaborated on how the dining experience helps young professionals gain experience and grow.
“It’s my and Chef Dru’s job to make sure these students stay motivated so that way when they finish the class and they go into the internship and finish the internship and go into the real industry, they learn from all their mistakes,” Pittman said. “There’s no such thing as getting punished for making a mistake. Chef Dru and I look at mistakes as learning opportunities. That’s how we motivate our students … and then demonstrate the correct way. That way they know this learning opportunity and they have a visual display on what to do.”
Students and members of the Oxford community can make reservations online Monday through Friday. For $12, customers get a four-course meal and a drink. Tips are not required, but any tips received go directly to the organization as a donation to help fund the program. Lab fees paid by the students also work to fund this nonprofit.