Carrie's Cafe

There are many places on Missouri State University’s campus where students can grab a bite to eat, but only one is designed and operated by students.

Carrie’s Cafe, located in Pummill Hall’s room 404, had their grand opening on Oct. 3. Carrie’s has been around for more than 20 years, and is run by students enrolled in MSU’s restaurant management course. Students work together to design the menu, prepare and serve the food and market the restaurant.

While Carrie’s is open from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays this semester, Wajeana White, the department of hospitality leadership instructor who oversees Carrie’s, said the cafe will frequently have all seats filled.

“By the end of the semester — or even the middle of the semester — we’ll be full house,” White said. “We seat 80, and they’re really moving, because that’s taking care of all those people in an hour and a half.”

While the cafe does get busy, Carrie’s welcomes walk-ins while seating is still available.

This semester, 10 students are running Carrie’s. Four students handle the front-end operations waiting tables and greeting customers, while the remaining six students handle the back-end operations preparing the meals. White said l the course has no tests or homework, but all students are required to clock in each class period as well as spend an hour each week to meet up with her and do outside prep-work.

Darryl Burkes, senior hospitality and restaurant administration, food and beverage major, is working in Carrie’s Cafe for a second semester. Burkes said this year, the theme for Carrie’s is focused on brunch.

“There’s going to be great, nice fall weather, and we’re open at a great time for the brunch hours,” Burkes said. “We added a lot of bacon into our menu this time because people love bacon.”

The class has met since the beginning of each semester like other MSU courses, but much time was spent preparing for their opening. he theme, design and pricing,is all up to students to create. White said she offers students about 12 different cuisine choices based on food trends, such as bacon, and the class as a group chooses the menu feature.

Once the theme is decided, students choose their recipes and begin to refine them. White said the ingredients used in these recipes are all sourced through three main local providers: the Springfield Grocer Company, Hy-Vee and the fresh herb garden outside of Pummill Hall.

Once everything related to the food itself is decided, students choose a new logo and begin work on the menu design and pricing options. After students complete all these steps, the rest of the semester mainly focuses on the operations of Carrie’s.

While Carrie’s is designed to turn a profit, all the money is put into purchasing supplies, upgrading equipment or put towards student scholarships. White said tips earned go back to students in the form of a fine-dining experience at a local restaurant at the end of the semester, and any left over will also be put toward scholarships.

“We are all about giving back to the students to invest in their future careers,” White said.

White said all the students she’s had are eager to learn and have their work noticed. Since Carrie’s is part of a course and students are learning, the cafe serves as a chance to support students and help them further their knowledge.

“Carrie’s is a training kitchen where students are learning to manage and operate a restaurant from the ground up to enhance their future careers, by the knowledge they gain in this class,” White said.