By Joel Delgado ’12 MS ’17
The Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management welcomed the university community and special guests to the new 140-seat restaurant management lab, which was introduced in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 19.
The state-of-the-art facility will serve as a living classroom for students looking to gain firsthand experience in restaurant management as they prepare for careers in the hospitality industry.
University leaders are excited with the possibility of expanding opportunities for students and training the next generation of leaders in the hospitality industry.
“This restaurant management lab is going to serve as a cornerstone for strengthening what we are doing in this school and help develop our graduates into prominent leaders in the hospitality and tourism industry,” said Mike Hampton, dean of the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management. “This is a foundation for helping the school move forward as one of the leading hospitality and tourism programs not only here in the United States, but globally.”
After university President Mark B. Rosenberg cut the ribbon at the lab’s entrance alongside President and COO of Southern Wine & Spirits Wayne Chaplin, guests were invited to tour the new facility, which also features a two-story wine tower and spirits demonstration bar.
“This restaurant management lab will become a mecca for the hospitality industry,” Rosenberg said. “I’m thrilled for our students, and this is going to give them another edge in the job market. They’re going to have tremendous learning opportunities as a consequence of this new facility.”
The facility’s completion marks the continuation of a partnership between FIU and the Chaplin family that dates back nearly two decades. For Chaplin, the restaurant management lab will prepare students to exceed expectations and excel when they enter the industry.
“This is something that the students will be able to enjoy for so many years to come and get experience in learning how to work in the most highly technical restaurant in Miami,” Chaplin said. “We couldn’t be more grateful to FIU and FIU’s leadership for today, for the past and we are really excited for our successes in the future.”
With an advanced food production lab and a brewing science lab also included, both of which will help bolster the school’s research in food, wine, beer and spirits, the facility will serve as a venue for faculty and students to incubate ideas and entrepreneurial ventures, and test new concepts.
The restaurant management lab’s new technology features the combination of an A/V system and fast web-streaming system, which will make the live streaming of events and lectures anywhere in the world possible.
Students will now have the ability to train on state-of-the-art systems that are far superior to the traditional point of sale systems in the market today thanks to Lavu Systems, which continues to lead the point of sale revolution in innovation and integration. Lavu Systems generously donated the software and licenses to the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management for POS Lavu, the very first full-featured restaurant point of sale available for the new Apple iPad/iPod system and designed to accommodate restaurant chains across the country.
“We spent over a half million dollars in integrating the capabilities for us to not only distribute what we’re doing worldwide, but to bring in experts in food, wine, beer and spirits to talk with students directly in the classroom live,” Hampton said. “That feature alone will make a huge difference for us.”
Combined with the chance to conduct management exercises, the lab will help prepare students like sophomore Leira Fombrun achieve their career ambitions.
“I’m hoping to learn every single aspect of owning a restaurant,” said Fombrun, who hopes to own her own restaurant someday. “We’re not just going to learn how to manage a restaurant but learn what goes on in the kitchen.”
Students taking advanced food production classes will not only be learning about restaurant management but will be able to put what they learn into practice by hosting dining events featuring a three-course meal for lunch or dinner on select dates throughout the semester.
For junior Chris Cadet, who eventually would like to be part of a management team of a hotel in a developing country, it is the ideal facility to help him and others like him get to where they want to be when they graduate.
“It looks like a replica of what some kitchens look like in the hospitality industry already, and it will give me an exact experience of what it would be like to do an internship in a hotel or a restaurant,” Cadet said. “Going from here to the real world wouldn’t even be a difference to me because it will feel like I was already there.”