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Columbus School Students Prepare To Open Cafe

A new downtown cafe will be the classroom for future culinary chefs at the Columbus Downtown High School. The cafe will teach students how to run a restaurant.

Columbus city schools instructor Pegeen Cleary leads the culinary arts program. Nearly 90 students are learning how to plan menus, shop, chop vegetables and fruits, and prepare a variety of food in a state of the art kitchen at the school. 16 year old Adam Alexander is learning what it takes to run a cafe. He can't wait to serve lunch customers at the school located at 364 South Fourth Street.

"I think I'm going to like the fast pace. I'm like an adrenalin guy and I like the fast pace, go, go, go, go."Says Alexander.

Alexander and other students work with some of the best commercial kitchen equipment.

"We make roux like to put in soups to thicken it up and then you learn about all the different types of equipment, like we have a steamer and a convection oven." Says Alexander.

Director of the Columbus Downtown High School, David Mangas, says the cafe will be run by the students.

"They'll learn everything from sanitary washing dishes, cleaning up all the way up to preparing some pretty high end executive type chef menu items." Mangas says.

16 year old Damaris Loretz pursued the culinary arts program after she tried cake decorating.

"I like pastries and desserts that would be my favorite thing, I like details." Loretz says.

Loretz who also attends Gahanna Christian Academy says teamwork is important.

"The thing I've learned the most is working with other people and how to not let just one person do everything but everyone do a little bit." Says Loretz.

Through the 2 year program students also earn a restaurant certification. Instructor, Pegeen Cleary says this gives them a step up if they want to work right out of high school, but she says many students go on to 4 year colleges.

"If they have a skill then they will always be able to find work, especially in an economy today where we know the jobs are harder to get." Cleary says.

The downtown caf will be open for lunch starting in February and will be open most Wednesdays and Thursdays through the end of the school year. The price is only five dollars a meal which includes sandwiches, salads appetizers and soup.