What I Did This Summer: Manage an outdoor café
"What I Did This Summer" follows a number of University of South Carolina students this summer as they work, travel, and explore the world. Many of them are blogging about their adventures. This is the seventh story in the series.
Columbia’s summers are hot but lunch is cool at the Garden Grille on campus.
Graduate student Lauren Rose greets newcomers and regulars at The Garden Grille with a big smile and a rundown of the day’s specials. By now, she knows every facet of running the outdoor café — last summer she was a grill operator, this summer she is the dining manager.
“The Grille offers light fare like sandwiches, burgers, wraps, fresh fruit, and lemonade,” said Rose, who is pursuing a master’s degree in international hospitality. “Diners are mostly campus visitors, and University faculty and staff. They can sit at the café’s shaded tables or inside the McCutchen House, where it’s air-conditioned.”
Open in the summer only, the Garden Grille is operated by students in the University’s Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management (HRTM) program. The eatery is located on the patio just outside McCutchen House, where HRTM students make and serve a lunch buffet during the academic year.
“The pimento cheeseburger is a crowd favorite at the Grille, so we offer that as a weekly special a lot,” said Rose, who received a bachelor’s degree in hotel, restaurant, and tourism management from USC in 2009.
“The rib-eye steak sandwich is popular, too. When I know that we’ll have special ingredients, I try to run a weekly special using those ingredients. This week we are offering a shrimp burger and a spicy chicken wrap, in addition to our usual menu.”
The job as dining manager is adding restaurant experience to Rose’s already lengthy resumé.
In high school, she was a server at Logan’s Steakhouse in Summerville, her hometown.
“There was a woman who came in as general manager, and her job was to identify problems in the restaurant and correct them,” she said. “She brought sales up, and the restaurant made a huge turnaround. When sales go down in another restaurant in the chain, she is sent there for a few years. When I saw what she did and what the results were, I was like, I want to do that!”
As an undergraduate at USC, Rose completed the required HRTM 270 and 370 courses.
“In 270, you work downstairs in the McCutchen House and cook. In 370, you work upstairs and serve. Then I did an independent study at McCutchen House to learn more about how it is managed. I helped plan the College of Hospitality, Retail, and Sport Management’s Homecoming events.
“I did an internship at Disney World when I was an undergrad," she said. "I lived in Disney housing for a few months, and I loved it! I worked as a hostess in the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios theme park.”
This summer, Rose is taking an online course titled, “E-commerce in Hospitality,” and researching other internship opportunities.
“In the master’s degree program I’m in, you can either write a thesis or complete an internship as part of the program,” Rose said. “I’m looking at another internship at Disney World."
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