By Paige Bodine
Art and Bev’s is a restaurant on the Grand Rapids Community College campus that you won’t forget once you try! The restaurant is so memorable because the food is delicious, every day there’s something new, and the low price is unbelievable. Art and Bev’s has limited hours and is only open three days a week. Why?
This great restaurant is more than just a restaurant, it also doubles as a class where aspiring food gurus can get to experience what it is like to work in a fast-paced restaurant environment. Of course, there are the mainstays on the menu that are considered fan favorites, and people continuously come back and order these things.
“Cheeseburgers, hamburgers, french fries, and baked goods are the most popular items. Our students make everything, even the baked goods,” said Chef Michael Whitmen, the instructor of the class.
Whitmen started teaching at Grand Rapids Community College’s culinary program in 1988. The Secchia Institute of Culinary Arts actually first was called: Culinary Arts and Beverage Management, hence the name Art and Bev’s. The food is delicious and the prices are unbeatable.
“Our prices are even more affordable than other dining on campus because we don’t have people on the payroll,” Whitman said. “This makes us a non-profit. Art and Bev’s is a class that students take to practice what it is like to work in a restaurant,” Whitman said when explaining how Art and Bev’s can be so affordable, delicious, and producing high-quality food, at the same time.
With health and safety on everyone’s minds, Art and Bev’s has adapted and changed to the times. They prioritize making sure that they are cooking the food in a safe way.
“We have done our best to adhere to all of the things that the public health department requires,” Whitman said, starting to list just a few of the many things that the staff does to make sure the customer is safe. “We have face masks, gloves, barriers, we try to keep things distant, we have the floor laid out so customers can stand six feet apart, we have state-of-the-art viral sides that sanitize surfaces, we also have routines every day that we go through to make sure the workspace is safe.”
The culinary program has been working hard to adapt to serving during the pandemic. The students are learning how to adhere to new regulations and guidelines, although it can require strenuous attention to detail, it strengthens the students’ skills for the real world. Restaurants have struggled to hang on during the pandemic. This has resulted in a catastrophic event of businesses shutting down. Even in such a dismal situation, there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel.
“The foodservice industry has been one of the hardest industry’s hit,” Whitman said. “I think that it is difficult to find work because of how many businesses have closed. I do have faith in my students that they will be able to find work. We have prepared them and are training them how to be safe and how to adapt to different situations.”
These culinary students have a passion for the culinary arts and are learning how to adapt to the times. Going to Art and Bev’s not only is ordering delicious food but also is supporting our peers that have a passion for food.
Art and Bev’s is open from 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. through April 15.