Newly opened Falcon Café at Fitch High School teaches life lessons

Groton — Learning restaurant skills is a lot more useful than people realize, said John Frascarelli, who ate lunch Thursday at the new student-run café at Robert E. Fitch High School.

“How many people end up working in the food service business after high school and through college?” said Frascarelli, a music teacher at Fitch. “As a musician, you don’t think I’ve waited tables? Every artist has done their time.”

The Falcon Café opened this fall at Fitch High School, serving teachers, staff and Groton seniors on designated days.

The restaurant teaches students how to cook, serve and approach customers, and allows them to explore the restaurant business as potential career.

"I thought it would be fun for my senior year," said Oniya Harrison, 17. She cooks for herself at home and plans to be a nurse, but said she has learned from the class.

"I learned we need to work together because it gets very hectic," she said.

In prior years, the café was a classroom activity. This year, students plan menus, prepare food and serve in a designated dining room.

The café is open two to three times a month, from 10:45 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., on designated days including Nov. 12, Nov. 18, Dec. 2 and Dec. 16.

All meals cost $4 and include a beverage and dessert. The cafe is open on those days to faculty, staff and to Groton residents.

Frascarelli ordered buffalo chicken on a hard roll and salad, and was pleased by the meal and professionalism of the students.

Many people work in restaurants during college because that is where the jobs are, he said.

“Think of the people skills that come from it," he said. "Dealing with difficult people and learning to shut your mouth and do your job.”

“Life skills,” said Liz Porter, a social studies teacher who ordered salad and sandwich at the café on Thursday. She added, “That salad bar is incredible today.”

Students said they took the class because they like to cook, or thought it would be fun. 

The class also includes some students who plan to attend Johnson & Wales University in Providence, culinary instructor Ingrid Selleck-Harwell said.

John Connors, 18, wants to become a U.S. Navy diver after he graduates high school, but said he may open a grill in the future.

“I really like working with food,” he said. “And I wouldn’t mind owning my own business after working in the military.”

Brittany Aylor, 18, a senior, said working at café is not easy. At one of the first lunches open to staff, the students got busy all at once and got confused.

“We would get like six (orders) at a time, and we’d have to run them out and people would grab the wrong plates and it would get confused,” Aylor said.

Frascarelli saw no confusion Thursday.

“Everything is excellent. Fresh. Served quickly,” he said. “There’s lots of options. Kids are handling it professionally. It’s a really nice thing.”

d.straszheim@theday.com

Twitter: @DStraszheim

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