At 11:30 AM on the dot, your lecture has just wrapped up and the professor is entertaining questions from your classmates at the front. As you pack away your belongings, you have another question on your mind: “Where oh where to grab some much needed lunch?”
There’s Creelman Hall, the eatery you secretly suspect procure their raw ingredients from the lost lands of Neverland, if only because you were told to prepare for campus food textured like wet cardboard. Obviously, Creelman is doing something right.
There’s also the Bullring, a homey hideaway on the path toward Rozanski Hall that boasts a dozen or so pub classics, not to mention the cozy couches scattering the space inside the comfy work slash dining area.
And of course you can’t skip over LA Pitt, one of the only two places you can eat at on campus during weekends. Most accessible to the residents of Lennox-Addinton, this go-to grill corner is your best bet for greasy comfort foods for those post-exam munchies.
But then there’s PJs.
You hear about it in passing, through the grapevine, from the occasional email about restaurants hosted in the atrium. It’s a ghost for all you know, because in spite of the whispers of this or that theme, neither you nor your friends have actually ventured up to try it. You probably haven’t even seen the place.
PJs Restaurant and the Bigger Picture
Located in Macdonald Institute, the first sign of PJ’s Restaurant is the neat, white lettering pasted on the glass of the building.
The open secret about PJ’s is that it is a restaurant run as part of HTM3090 Restaurant Operations, a course available to Hospitality and Tourism students as well as Applied Human Nutrition students.
With 12 years of experience running this course under his belt, Simon Day and his TA Shannon King are prepared to guide their fledgling students toward providing the best possible service to the guests on each of their respective restaurant days.
What you see as a guest is wholly different from what goes on behind the scenes.
To prepare for their one day of service, groups begin their work at the beginning of the semester with brainstorming, researching and committing to ideas and recipes for their restaurant. Then they churn out pages of recipes for each individual component of their entrée as well as a nutrients analysis to complement them.
The students are responsible for everything, from the planning of the signature dishes to the ordering of the ingredients to the job allocations of all the lab members.
How Service Runs
Throughout each semester, PJ’s opens to the public as early as a few weeks into classes, first with three soft openings where all main entrées are half price and then with three weekly themed restaurants thereon.
Between the service period of 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM in any given restaurant, your fellow students double up as your hostesses, wait staff, and kitchen staff in what’s often one of their first experiences in that role.
For those first-timers itching to dine there, know that PJ’s is not a drop-in restaurant, meaning you can’t just waltz in unannounced expecting a seat.
As each restaurant is aiming for at least 80 guests, students set out to advertise their restaurant weeks before the actual day of service. They do this by sending out emails through the listserv of relevant programs, attaching posters to every inch of flat surface across campus, and probably pestering their friends to go too – all in the hopes of people reserving tables at their restaurant.
Fall Semester Lineup
By the end of October, several students have already experienced their nerve-wracking day of managing their very own restaurant. However, with three restaurants running each week up until December 2nd, there is still plenty of time to have lunch at PJ’s.
Upcoming restaurants, of which include Canadian Comforts, Hues of the Harvest, Garden Delight and Euro Trip, can be found here along with their special menus, reservations link and a small blurb pertaining to their theme. Because each menu is created with the theme in mind, many of the signature menu items are exclusive to a specific restaurant.
In addition to a given group’s signature items, PJ’s also offers a standard menu with favourites such as crispy, battered fish in soft shell tacos, Cuban pork topped pizza, and a small assortment of vegetarian items.
So next time when you see an email delivered to your gryphmail about an upcoming PJ’s restaurant or you catch sight of it in the form of posters behind a bathroom stall door, consider adding to their guest count; chances are, you’re in for good food, too.