The annual Penn State Berks pop-up, fine-dining restaurant event is currently taking reservations for its annual dinner, set for 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 3, in the first-floor lobby of the Gaige Technology and Business Innovation Building on the Berks campus.
Under the supervision of Chef Ben Lesnick, executive chef at the Berkshire Country Club in Reading, students will present a five-course meal at their pop-up bistro, “Islandside.”
This year, students developed a Caribbean-themed restaurant featuring a choice of Jamaican jerk chicken, Dominican beef stew, and Trinidadian veggie curry.
Seating is limited and reservations are required. Callers should indicate a time, entrée preference, and food allergies when making their reservation. In addition, meals can be ordered “to go” in advance. The event is open to the general public and costs $45 per person. Only credit/debit card payments will be accepted this year.
“These past few weeks have been a true test of our team’s professional and interpersonal skills as we navigate the path of creating an experience from the ground up that all who attend will love,” senior hospitality management major Grace Fischer said. “The experience does come with the nerves of presenting an idea that we have worked so hard on to be judged by the public, but I am so incredibly proud of my team and everything that we’ve accomplished. “
The pop-up restaurant is the result of the capstone course titled “Advanced Food Production and Service Management,” part of the college’s hospitality management degree program. The concept was developed by Pauline Milwood, assistant professor of hospitality management at Penn State Berks.
“Over the past twelve weeks, the HM 430 students practiced critical decision-making and technical skills related to menu development, service design, digital marketing, bootstrapping, navigating uncertainty in the entrepreneurial process, and explored using AI as an evaluative tool for their pop-up restaurant concept. As they prepare to graduate within the next six months, their immersive learning experiences in this real-world project will be invaluable to the hospitality sector.”
The event has been held every year since 2018 — except 2020 when the pop-up restaurant was not an in-person event, making this the fifth year that students are engaging with the project.
The student managers running the restaurant this year are senior hospitality management majors Chaslyn Christman, Grace Fischer, Adara Otero, Thomas Scott, Heather Szymborski-Pratt, Joshua Tanis, and Amy Yu.
The event was funded in part by the Berks Arts and Cultural Endowment. For more information or to make reservations, contact Pauline Milwood at 610-396-6314 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The hospitality industry is a major economic driver in the Berks County area, and the hospitality management degree program is offered in response to demand for graduates with degrees in the hospitality industry. Penn State Berks is the only campus outside University Park to offer the degree program with the entrepreneurship option.
The hospitality management degree program helps to prepare students for management positions in hotels, restaurants, resorts and other hospitality organizations. It also provides a sound background for students who plan to pursue graduate studies.