Every fall, the phone rings off the hook with people seeking reservations for Dunlop House at Camosun College.
The restaurant at the Lansdowne campus is the best kept secret in the local hospitality scene, says Carl Everitt, chair of Camosun’s Hospitality, Tourism and Management program.
“We’re really connected to the community,” says Everitt. “Sometimes guests come into the restaurant and forget we’re part of a college, because our students have created a high-end dining experience.”
From October to December, Dunlop House serves delicious multi-course meals prepared by hospitality students who oversee the restaurant’s operation.
The program uses the restaurant to teach fundamental management skills, such as leadership, interpersonal skills, critical thinking and business acumen. Prices are kept low while ensuring high service standards and food quality. Throughout the season, students rotate roles, so that each learns what it takes to succeed in the competitive restaurant industry.
“The philosophy behind it has always been applied learning,” he says. “That means that our students learn by running a professional restaurant operation open to the local community.”
To prepare for opening day on Oct. 11, students organized a soft opening launch.
“It went really well and everyone was focused on their roles,” says hospitality student Clayton Thornber, who served as manager for the soft opening. “We’re ready for people to come and enjoy their food.”
Dunlop House was designed by architect Samuel McClure in 1928 and its heritage features foster a welcoming atmosphere.
“The mantelpiece was a gift from McClure to the original owners and our students and guests feel right at home here,” he says.
The food gets rave reviews and helps to support the local restaurant industry. “Our program focuses on sustainability, and we try to work with local suppliers as much as we can,” explains Everitt.
“Our grads are working in local hotels and restaurants and internationally as well. The industry is expanding and the world is their oyster right now.”