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