If the general manager of a local upscale hotel and restaurant asked for your professional opinion on how to improve the atmosphere and appeal of its featured eatery, how would you respond?
For the group of five College of the Canyons Hotel & Restaurant Management students who were posed this complicated question, the response was altogether well researched, logically organized and professionally presented.
“It was unbelievable,” said Barry Prescott, general manager at the Hyatt Regency Valencia. “The students did a great job on presenting their ideas for this project, and there were a number of areas in which I used their ideas.”
The project was part of last semester’s COC course “Hotel & Restaurant Management 220: Restaurant Operations” taught by department chair Kevin Anthony.
With Prescott preparing to undergo a redesign and refurbishment of the Vines Restaurant & Bar located inside the Hyatt Regency Valencia, and Anthony looking for a new and innovative way to challenge his students, the collaboration was a natural fit for both parties.
“Kevin and I got to talking, and I said ‘maybe we could do a little project together,’” commented Prescott. “The thought was perhaps I could use some of the students’ ideas and maybe they’ll be able to learn something from the experience.”
Given a hypothetical design/construction budget of approximately $20,000, the group of students was asked to be creative in their suggestions, while remembering that the project would need to be completed somewhat inexpensively.
As a result, the group focused on a redesign effort that would have the biggest potential impact on future guests.
Included among the suggested renovations which were eventually adopted by Prescott were plans to improve the lighting at the main entrance of restaurant to create a more inviting atmosphere; a rearrangement of the restaurant’s tables and chairs to give a less formal, and more comfortable feel; the addition of an outdoor seating area; furniture reupholstery and carpet replacement; a change of the inside wall décor to include the restaurant logo and accompanying vine design; and eventually, a series of menu changes.
“The college experience provides a great learning environment, but for students to be able to get involved in a project like this and actually see their work change the direction of the project is the neatest thing in the world,” added Prescott. “It’s good for the students, good for the college and it’s been good for us … I’d love to do more of it.”
Based on the success of this recent collaboration, the college’s Hotel & Restaurant Management department is dedicated to providing its students with additional opportunities to participate in future collaborations of this nature.
“We were very fortunate to have Mr. Prescott and the Hyatt Regency Valencia provide such a tremendous learning opportunity. Our students truly grew with this experience,” said Anthony. “The college’s Hotel & Restaurant Management department would welcome the opportunity to have our students work with any local hospitality company to provide an outsider’s perspective on their operations and, if requested, suggest potential changes and improvements.”