Aspen Grille

Apr 202004
Authors: Chris Kampfe

An addition to Lory Student Center provides students a place for

lunch and a place to launch a career.

The Aspen Grille, in the northwest wing of the student center

near the University Club, serves gourmet dishes for patrons wanting

to step out of the food court for lunch, without stepping out of

their price range. And it’s run entirely by students.

Open five days a week for lunch, the Aspen Grille operates under

total supervision by the students and professors in the Department

of Restaurant and Resorts Management.

The Aspen Grille exists as a lab supplement to a course taught

by Ken Smith, an associate professor in the department.

“It’s an ongoing lesson all day long, how to operate

restaurants,” Smith said.

This semester is the first the course has been in operation, and

is being well received by some students enrolled in the class.

“I think it’s great, we have a certain requirement for hours in

the industry,” said Jason Van Ort, a senior restaurant and resort

management major in the course. “This gives all the students a

great opportunity, it’s on campus with professors and they’re more

focused on answering your questions.”

Enrollment in the course requires each student to spend time

working all of the different positions in the restaurant.

“The main goal is to engage as many students in as many

different positions as possible,” said Jade Brown, a junior

restaurant and resort management major. “From working in the

kitchen to the bar and waiting tables.”

The goal of the program is to give students exposure to the

restaurant industry in a hands-on environment, as well as expanding

the experience by having students buy food from local food


“I want students to be able to see the whole picture of a

sustainable business,” Smith said. “We’re trying to give the

students the bigger picture than just this place.”

Contracting with local distributors not only gives students a

chance to be a part of the distribution process, but also ensures

the freshest ingredients possible.

“We wanted our feel to be very fresh,” said Jeff Miller, an

instructor in the restaurant resort management program, who

instructs students in the culinary training. “We produce as much as

we can to the minute. We don’t make a weeks worth of anything.”

The Aspen Grille attempts to buy products from distributors

within a 50-mile radius of CSU. Some examples of local ingredients

include lamb from Windsor, fresh mushrooms and blue cheese from

local providers, as well as herbs and greens grown at CSU in the


“We are after all a land-grant school,” Smith said. “We might as

well take advantage of what’s grown locally.”

The restaurant also contracts out to local bakers for all their

bread and pastry, and is collaborating with Coopersmith’s Pub and

Brewery to create a beer special to the Grille.

An exception to this is their coffee, Caf� Richesse,

purchased from a coffee plantation in Brazil, which is owned and

operated by a CSU alumnus.

Aside from their specialty lunch salads, panini and soups, the

Aspen Grille offers more unconventional items like “The Ramburger”

made from lambs raised locally in Windsor or the grille’s own

in-house ice creams, which include flavors like Guinness and


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