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Student-run restaurant serves up experience

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Student-run restaurant serves up experience
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It's a little taste of the real world for Hotel Administration students at Cornell University. On Monday, a student-run restaurant called The Establishment at Statler opened for the semester. Tamara Lindstrom has more on the project.

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Eager diners got their first look at this semester's version of The Establishment restaurant at Cornell University Monday night.

"It's opening night, we're in full swing. We're over capacity at the moment, which is wonderful. And I think things are going great so far," said Emily Walker, a senior at the School of Hotel Administration.

But it's more than just another campus eatery. Now in its second semester, the 19 table restaurant in the Statler Hotel is actually a class project.

"Every student in the class gets assigned a night where it's their management night. They decide everything from the theme to the specials," Walker said. "And all the wait staff you see here, all the back of house is all students assisted by TAs and professors, of course."

"They basically learn all aspects of managing a business, from conceptualizing how they're going to run it to planning the process to executing and then analyzing," said Alex Susskind, an associate professor who teaches the course.

One-hundred-twenty Hotel Administration students will help out on the semester-long project, creating a different experience each night. And for some, facing their fears.

"I think cooking and having to get everything out under pressure is one of the scariest things in the world," Walker said. "So I'm hoping this class will teach me huge respect for restaurants and how they work."

And while the restaurant does turn a small profit...

"We're a classroom first and a business second," Susskind said. "So the profit motive isn't why we're doing this. It's the educational motive."

But Susskind points out it would be hard to teach about management if the business wasn't making money.

All the profits made at the restaurant go back into the project. The Establishment is open to the public Monday through Thursday evenings throughout the semester.

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