Cooking up work experience at JSB Café

Stephanie Olsen, 25, culinary arts major, reads an order in the JSB Cafeteria at City College on Tuesday, Nov. 6, in Santa Barbara (Calif.) The JSB is an entirely student run cafeteria.

Nora Abou-Dabous

Stephanie Olsen, 25, culinary arts major, reads an order in the JSB Cafeteria at City College on Tuesday, Nov. 6, in Santa Barbara (Calif.) The JSB is an entirely student run cafeteria.

Gabriela Cevallos, Channels Contributor

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If you’re a student on a college budget and find yourself craving a cheesy pizza or juicy burger for under $10, the JSB Café on East Campus is where you want to eat.

“I think it’s so good and within my tight budget,” said Zinnia Ayon, a City College sophomore. “I save money specifically to enjoy the Classic Club with a side of ranch and lemonade.”

Known for it’s delicious food and friendly service, the cafe has gained regular customers like Ayon for the lunchtime rush. The cafe opens at 11:15 a.m. and closes at 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The JSB Café is named after the donor James S. Bower and remains a hidden gem on campus. Chef Randy Bublitz, culinary arts and hotel management chair, provides insight on the cafe’s main purpose – a laboratory course for the culinary arts students.

Through the lab course, students learn every aspect of operating the kitchen and it has been offered since the program began.

Specifics skills include dealing with customers, cleaning, prepping, cooking and serving food. Every two days the students rotate from the various stations to gain the full experience of operating a restaurant.

“Every time I walk in I see people sitting and enjoying their food. The water fountain is always on, the workers are always friendly and you can just tell the chefs like what they’re doing because you can taste it in the food,” Ayon said.

Daily specials such as the Margherita Wood-fired Pizza or the Spicy Oven-Baked Sandwich are menu items the students come up with.

“The items appear based on learning needs and display creativity to some degree,” Bublitz said.

According to Bublitz, the permanent items on the menu are based on “historical preferences, input over the course of the years and trends.”

Wood-fired pizza is a current trend noted by Bublitz, who added a new wood-fired oven in the cafe’s patio this semester.

Students in the program are required to complete various lab courses. They start with a basic course on sanitation, followed by the maintenance and operation of the cafe. Lastly, students alternate during their third and fourth semester and manage the JSB Café and John Dunn Gourmet Dinning Room.

“They basically let us run the place like a real restaurant. So it’s pretty neat to have real life experience while being a student,” said Somersby Jenkins, third semester culinary student.

The students do not receive any sort of monetary compensation for their work, but the learning experience received is much more valuable to their career, Bublitz said.

“The ‘back house’ of the JSB is my favorite because we get hands on experience by doing the cooking,” said Jenkins.

Although unknown to some, the cafe is popular as seen by the long lines stretching outside the door.

With the outside patio decorated with various plants, a fountain and ample indoor seating, The JSB Café provides restaurant service while maintaining a laid back and comfortable setting for faculty, staff and students on campus.

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