Lenoir Dining is a dining experience like no other on the University of Mississippi campus. Its small dining room with 40 seats is busy with student servers taking and dropping off orders among the quiet chatter of its patrons. It is primarily run by hospitality management and dietetics and nutrition majors. While it is a full-service restaurant, it is also a classroom and lab.
Students who serve as Lenoir Dining workers are enrolled in the course NHM (Nutrition and Hospitality Management) Quantity Food Production and Service Lab. It is a 5-hour lecture and lab that gives undergraduates the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of a full restaurant operation.
“Working in the front of the house today as a server has been great because of the people that have come in,” said Rachel Nolan, a senior nutrition and dietetics major. “It’s fun to not only see familiar faces but also meet new people.”
Menus are structured to include a starter of the day, first course, second course and dessert with a choice of drink. Meals are $9 for university students and $10 for nonstudents, faculty and staff. Menu changes occur weekly for students’ exposure to new concepts and ideas.
For example, Lenoir Dining recently offered Cheddar Bay biscuits as a starter, with a house salad for the first course. For the second course, diners could choose from Redfish Courtbouillon, grilled mahi mahi, grilled tofu or bacon cheeseburger. Then for dessert: a slice of key lime pie or a peanut butter blondie.
Throughout the semester, each student rotates to gain experience in each job, including manager/hostess, server, back-of-house manager, as well as kitchen duties including entrees, sides, dessert/salads, pot sink and dish pit.
“Anything in back of the house is the most fun because of the energy in the kitchen, and Chef (Dru Jones) is fun to learn from,” said Emily Neuburger, a senior hospitality management major.
The class also covers operations such as menu planning, food safety, costing and other skills required for restaurant standards.
Jones said students are not training to work as chefs but rather to gain a sense of management and collaboration with their peers in a kitchen setting.
“The most challenging part for me is that the students have no experience in the food industry,” Jones said, “For the students, it’s delegating with their peers.”
Lenoir Dining is open 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and closed Saturday and Sunday. Reservations and weekly menus can be found here.
Addison Markham is a senior integrated marketing and communications major and an intern in University Marketing and Communications.