SCRANTON -- One program at Lackawanna College is about to get a new home. It's been years in the making, but Monday marked the first visual step in the new culinary arts facility becoming a reality.
The groundbreaking ceremony marked the start of construction on the 409 Adams Avenue building in Scranton. The building was built in the 1970s, but the renovation of the building and the adjacent courtyard will be another step in the growth of Lackawanna College and its culinary arts program.
Just this past semester, the program had to cap its students at 50. The brand new, two-story, state of the art facility will bring more opportunities for students by this time next year.
"I feel like not only will the name Lackawanna start to grow with us, it's also going to get us pretty far in life," said Culinary Arts student Ethan Byron.
The new building will feature industrial teaching kitchens, a study space, and a restaurant - what students seem to be most excited for.
"The new restaurant that is going to be happening, being able to serve actual people is going to be fun, and it's going to be a helpful experience. I've worked in a kitchen before, but I feel like it's going to be a bigger experience than I've had so far," Byron said.
The restaurant will seat 72, and the culinary students will be calling the shots.
"We tell our students that cooking is part of it, but being able to be successful business people is important as well, so we're going to add that skill set with the addition of the restaurant," said program director Stephanie Decker.
Decker says more than half the students in the program say they want to own their own restaurant one day, so this is a crucial first step.
"It's overwhelming. I had my sunglasses on, but I teared up when we broke ground. We've been dreaming about this for about 10 years, and the fact that it's actually going to be open in August is just incredible," Decker said.
Lackawanna College received financial assistance for this project through a $3 million grant. President Mark Volk says this will support the growth and expansion of the college.
"We know they're going to take a great education with them. Hopefully, they're also going to take with them the feeling that as a small college, we work closely with them. We know them, their faces, their names. They'll carry with them Lackawanna College as they leave," the college's president said.
Construction on the building is expected to be completed in August 2018. The culinary arts program director says to start, they hope to add two more classes, which would be 30 more students, as well as a baking a pastry program.