“With Love” Brings Culture To Syracuse
By Lilia Wood – Syracuse, N.Y. (CitrusTV) – If you’re looking for a unique place to dine this autumn, you may want to consider a local restaurant that is also a classroom. “With Love, Palestine” is Onondaga Community College’s laboratory restaurant located on N. Saline Street, where the students are taught skills they need to enter the food service workforce.
The curriculum for this program is modeled after what employers are seeking most: dedicated and trained workers. “With Love, Palestine” makes a live restaurant the classroom where the students are taught with real world experience. Every six months, they select a new cuisine not easily found in Syracuse. Currently, they are serving Palestinian food until December 21st.
Collin Townsend is one of the two Workforce Educators to oversee the restaurant, and the rest of the staff is in training.
“It’s some of the most unique dining experience that you’ll have in Syracuse and honestly outside of out the city, New York,” Townsend said. “It’s a very interesting atmosphere. Everyone’s learning and everyone’s sharing. If you come in here to eat, you’re partaking in the experience.”
The students are either learning proper cooking techniques as line cooks or practicing their soft skills waiting tables.
“Our main goal is to instill a very strong work ethic within our students,” Townsend said.
Some students, like Jacob Lawrence, are employed by CNY Works, a nonprofit organization that matches skilled workers with employers. CNY Works signs a contract with “With Love, Palestine” to train workers who have little work experience.
“To be honest, I’ve never really eaten in another restaurant before,” Lawrence said.
Students can graduate once they master their restaurant position. The program teaches them not only food service skills but also strengths that they need to enter in the workforce.
“Punctuality, how to show up on time and how to work hard,” Townsend said. “The number one request we get from a lot of employers in Syracuse is if you can send us people that show up on time when they are supposed to then we can teach them the rest.”
By the time the students finish the program, they are ideal candidates for employers.
“When I get out of this, it’s just to get more stuff under my belt,” Lawrence said. “Another job another chef job or restaurant job.”
And for these workers, the dreams don’t stop at the kitchen door.
“In tens years, maybe a house and a couple more kids,” Lawrence said.