Student Taqueria Serves Up Authentic Flavors

JWU Hospitality seniors Jesse and Brian take you behind the scenes at Casa de Carabelas, just one of the many pop-up restaurants run during Brian Connors’ advanced Food Service Operations Management class.


Fast/Casual Mexican Street Food Concept
“The concept today is Mexican street food,” says Jesse, “We’re keeping it healthy, keeping it light — but still bringing those authentic flavors to the table.”

That includes a fresh salsa bar with 12 different salsas, and a full array of taco options just like you’d find in Mexico City: “We’ve got 3 different types of braised meats, so they’re really lean and full of flavor. We’re also grilling off fresh corn with a chipotle-lime butter and queso fresco.” Chocolate-drop cookies end the meal on a sweet note.

JWU Team Designs Every Detail
While Jesse is making sure everything runs smoothly in the kitchen, the front of house team puts the final touches on the dining room. The team designed every detail of the decor, from the collage menus to the paper maché skull centerpieces on every table. Cut-paper banners with Mexican folk art themes round out the Dios de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) look.

Technology keeps the front and back of house teams in constant contact. Says Brian, “We use iPads with instant messenger to expedite orders. It’s great because it’s new technology integrating into the kitchen. We use iPads in class too, for group assignments.”

Creative Leadership in Action
The team’s careful planning pays off once service starts. Orders are expedited, fresh fruit juices are mixed like margaritas — and the room quickly starts filling up with happy diners.

And while guests are mainly here for the delicious food, the class is ultimately a real-time test of students’ creative leadership and managerial skills. Notes Connors, “There are so many moving parts to this class. They really have to pull all their skills together."

Food Service Students Run Pop-up Restaurants in Lab

VIDEO: In his lab, Prof. Connors shows you what it takes to run an authentic taquería: teamwork and leadership. read more