Wallingford student-run restaurant part of culinary program adjusting amid pandemic


WALLINGFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Welcome to Wallingford‘s student-run kitchen. And no, this is not for play.

Pre-COVID, the students of Lyman Hall High School typically made 80 lunches in an hour and a half for the student-run restaurant, Cooks Table.

When students returned to school, the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management program at Lyman Hall re-opened amid the pandemic, and the administration said NO to Cooks Table.

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“It was really hard to hear because that’s what I want to do for a living,” said senior and restaurant manager Becca Milewski.

Director of the program, Sharon Drossopoulos, encouraged her students to set new COVID-friendly goals.

“We all decided we couldn’t just sit here all year,” Drossopoulos said.

Their number one priority: refusing to accept no for an answer. So they invited local health officials in for a walkthrough and embraced the concept: adapt and change.

“It’s really just continuing what we implemented last year. And just adding the mask and social distancing,” Milewski said.

Students made a video and put together a proposal for Superintendent Salvator Menzo and the Board of Education. And finally, a green light! Cooks Table can re-open next month.

Milewski said, “My work and all of our class’ hard work – it really paid off. It’s just nice to hear that we can all do what we love again.”

There are typically about 20 students in this classroom, but many are doing remote learning. So, with fewer students in person, that means the menu had to adapt as well. They established a contactless ordering system, set up plexiglass, and shortened the menu. Now, the plan is to serve around 30 lunches.

Proceeds from the Cooks Table go back into the Hospitality program, and students use it to give back to the community.

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