Since its inception over twenty years ago, Chez Nous, NMU’s bistro-style restaurant, has been open to the public for lunch hours in spring semesters only. During those terms, students have had the opportunity to operate all areas of the restaurant, gaining much-needed, hands-on experience, while serving the public some of the best food in the area.
In the fall of 2008, Professor Yvonne Lee piloted a new supervisory course in order to meet the growing needs and wants of the hospitality management student body. Now, in addition to the spring course offered by Professor Leslie Cory—which focuses on the fast-paced and multi-faceted world of preparation and service in a fine-dining setting—Lee’s course offers students a slower prep-course in which students have found themselves “able to be really creative with things.”
Students agree, “This course really prepared us for the course in spring.”
Readying students for the spring course is certainly the chief purpose in opening Chez Nous during the fall semester, but the public is also a huge consideration. According to Lee, “Many hospitality management programs lack sophistication.” Many don’t offer students the opportunity to be artful or teach them the strategies to making fine-dining available at a low price.
Students in Yvonne’s class are learning the fine art of operating a restaurant like Chez Nous on a small budget. They work to design, price, prepare and serve with eloquence. The goal is to create delicious, sophisticated dishes on a prix fixe menu ($15.00 or less).
“Our students need to keep with the trends,” Lee says, so she’s teaching them to manage a bistro-style restaurant that offers chic meals at a reduced price, thereby keeping in line with the fine-dining experience one might find in metropolitan areas.
Opening Chez Nous in the evenings has not only opened up opportunities for students, but it has drawn in an altogether new crowd. “Students are bringing dates,” Lee said, “because here is an affordable date night” replete with white, linen napkins and a potentially-romantic atmosphere.
“It’s different than the lunch crowd, and it’s been fun to see.” According to Lee, it’s been beneficial and fun for the students as well as the public.
Here is another great way of servicing Northern students and faculty and the Marquette community.