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Student-run café at Hawkeye Community College hoping to recruit more students

Published: Apr. 2, 2021 at 7:31 PM CDT
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WATERLOO, Iowa (KCRG) -A new student-run café at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo is giving students hands-on experience in the hospitality world.

A new jobs report released on Friday shows the U.S added more than 915,000 jobs in March. The Labor Department says much of the hiring is happening at restaurants and other parts of the hospitality industry.

Students running the RedTail Café are hoping a return to normal will bring a return to the hospitality industry.

Colin Weber never thought he would be back in the kitchen cooking customers a hot meal. His old job took a turn for the worse when the pandemic hit.

“I went from working in a restaurant to then serving to go frozen food,” he said.

Weber decided to go back to school for hospitality management. Besides cooking for more than 200 people per day, students are learning things like time management, handling inventory, and hiring people at The RedTail Café. Weber says he’s staying ready for when people feel safe to eat out again.

“It’s important to people to sit down together and have a meal and talk and discuss,” he said. “At some point that will be back, it just depends on when it will be the right time to do it.”

Staff at Hawkeye say the Pandemic has made it hard to recruit people for the hospitality program. The student-run café came about because they lost their previous contractor because of Covid-19 last year. They are hoping it will be appetizing for students.

“I definitely think there is a lot of job opportunities,” said Program Director Ashley Gracia. “The ones I like to focus on is creating good managers that create healthy environments for other employees to work in.”

Gracia wants to have her students ready for the real world.

“The hospitality industry is on its way back,” she said. “Especially with travel and tourism. I think the focus for them on the pandemic is to get through it, and then get out in the workforce.”

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