Student culinary arts program closes

Posted 5/19/09

Boxes and containers lined the tables as the staff and volunteers packed up for the final time as Mr. B’s Restaurant closes for good. The …

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Student culinary arts program closes

Posted

Boxes and containers lined the tables as the staff and volunteers packed up for the final time as Mr. B’s Restaurant closes for good.

The restaurant, located in the Lowell Annex building in Englewood, provided hands-on experience in food preparation and service for high school and college students for three decades.

However, earlier this month the decision was made to close down the culinary arts program offered as part the Arapahoe-Douglas Career Training Service program. The ACTS program includes students from Cherry Creek, Douglas County, Englewood, Littleton and Sheridan school districts and from Arapahoe Community College.

David Shellberg, ACC executive vice president, said operating costs and the fact Englewood Schools plans to close the building resulted in the decision to close the facility.

As a result of Englewood’s decision to close the Lowell building, Shellberg said the ACTS Health Scoence Program will be moved to Ames Elementary School in Littleton, the current site of the Teacher Cadet Program.

“The changes are all part of the fact ACTS program is in a state of reorganization and exploration,” Shellberg said. “The changes are being made as the board of directors adopts a more global view of all our ACTS programs, making adjustments in order to better prepare our students to enter the 21st-century job market.”

He said the changes are a result of a new vision of where ACTS wants to go and the changes necessary to get there.

The atmosphere was somber May 15 as boxes were packed in preparation for closing Mr. B’s Restaurant and the ACTS culinary arts program.

Student Dora Mae Griner said the decision to close the program makes her mad.

“I took this course because I want to eventually open my own restaurant,” the Englewood High School senior said. “I only went here one year and, while I cook a lot at home, this course taught me so much. I learned a lot of different cooking techniques, including what to do when you mess up or how to use just about any leftovers to make soup.”

She said working as a server also taught her a great deal about that aspect of the restaurant business. She the program was valuable to so many people and it’s a shame to see it go away.

Mary Johnson has headed the culinary arts program for 16 years.

She explained two-year culinary arts program provided hands-on training and experience in all aspects of food service to an average of about 60 students a year.

Johnson noted that many of the estimated 1,800 students who have gone through the program went on to attend advanced culinary programs at schools like Johnson and Wales University.

“My biggest job was making a difference in the lives of some of our students who may not have stayed in school if this program hadn’t been available to them,” she said. “It is a shame to see this program go away. In addition to training students, Mr B’s was a meeting place for a lot of local organizations. I love the kids, I love our customers and I’ll miss being here at the restaurant.”

“It is a shame to see this program go away … I’ll miss being here at the restaurant.”

Mary Johnson

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