Restaurant Run by Fifth Graders Entices VIP Guests
Chef Patrick Mulvaney is working with SCUSD kids to bring elegant dining experience to Oak Park school

Press release

March 27, 2012 (Sacramento) – A fancy restaurant – complete with celebrity chef, fine linens, haute cuisine and “cocktail” bar – opening in Oak Park this week is expected to draw a VIP guest list of local movers and shakers.
The twist: This “Five Star Restaurant” will be run entirely by fifth graders.

On Wednesday (March 28), a group of dedicated elementary school students will transform the cafeteria of Oak Ridge Elementary School in Oak Park into a “Five Star Restaurant,” an elegant evening conceived, designed and executed by the students themselves – with the help of midtown chef Patrick Mulvaney of Mulvaney’s B&L Restaurant.

“The idea is to give the students the opportunity to really experience the joys and challenges of entrepreneurship,” says Stella Ruiz, of Miracles and Milestones, the group that organized the restaurant program for 48 students.

From the first day of the program to Wednesday’s culmination, the kids were treated like partners in a real business, says Ruiz. Students had to interview for their jobs on the sales, public relations, interior design and finance teams. They held business meetings after school and on Saturdays.  They made sales calls to sell tickets at the Capitol, City Hall and other locations around Sacramento.

Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, Sacramento Vice Mayor Angelique Ashby and City Councilman Steve Cohn are among the local VIPs who purchased tickets to the dinner.

Keynote speakers are Mark Otero, the founder of KlickNation and a self-described “serial entrepreneur,” and City Councilman Jay Schenirer.

Throughout the 10-week program, students learned the ins and outs of the restaurant business from Mulvaney, including how to plan, cook and serve gourmet meals.

“The kids were so excited to be involved that some would show up at 7:30 a.m. for the 9 a.m. program on Saturdays,” Ruiz says.

Students in the program accompanied Mulvaney on a shopping trip to a local farmer’s market, where they purchased ingredients for the dinner, which is themed “Into the Garden.” Servers on Wednesday will be wearing special “Five Star” aprons. Student ambassadors will be in shirts and ties (boys) and dresses and cardigans (girls).

So what’s on the menu?

Oak Ridge Principal Doug Huscher says that’s a closely guarded secret. “We’ll find out that night when the students announce the menu,” he said.

The best part of the experience is that the students themselves get to decide which field trips to take with the estimated $3,000 to $4,000 profit the restaurant will reap.

“I’m extremely proud of the kids and extremely grateful to all of the people who participated,” says Huscher. “This has been an invaluable real-world experience for students.”

WHAT:                 Oak Ridge Elementary School’s “Five Star Restaurant”
WHEN:                 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 28
WHERE:               Oak Ridge Elementary School
                               4501 Martin Luther King Blvd.
                               Sacramento, CA 95820