Hospitality management students host pop-up restaurants during spring semester

Starting a restaurant requires risks, and the classroom experiment gives students a safe environment to plan, develop and improve before entering the job field. A new themed pop-up occurs every Monday of the spring semester. (Maddy Daniels | Collegian Media Group)

On March 29, the sound of students bustling and buzzing around to chop, flip and monitor food filled the kitchen of a pop-up restaurant. Pots and pans clanged and meat sizzled on the grill as students prepared the barbecue-themed menu.

Seniors on the food and beverage track of hospitality management have the opportunity to plan and operate a restaurant for one day, with new themes every Monday of the spring semester.

“This is the first semester I took this class over, and I said, ‘You guys are going to be graduating and operating a restaurant, so let’s do something fun thing this semester,’” Junehee Kwon, co-director of the project, said. “So, I came up with a project called pop-up restaurants and told students to come up with a concept they are comfortable with, and [to] plan their menu and recipe and scheduling; everything about the restaurant.”

Grant Gustafson and Trent Barnum, seniors in hospitality management, managed the March 29 barbecue restaurant, and they said that although the management was stressful, their involvement felt worth-while.

“This is so much fun,” Gustafson said. “It’s a super unique class and a cool experience getting to put everything together. It puts into perspective managing a kitchen and what’s it’s like to work in the real world.”

(Maddy Daniels | Collegian Media Group)
Students prepare the meals in the kitchen of Lacy’s Fresh Fare and Catering in Justin Hall. (Maddy Daniels | Collegian Media Group)

Starting a restaurant requires taking risks, and the classroom experiment gives students a safe environment to plan, develop and improve before entering the job field.

“[Students] plan it, execute it, sell it and evaluate it,” Kwon said. “Within a short time, students are experiencing restaurant development, cost control, financial management, everything they’ll be experiencing [after graduation] on a smaller scale.”

Along with Kwon, Ericka Bauer, hospitality management instructor, led the class. Bauer said she created a positive, laid-back atmosphere for the students to work in throughout the project and during the execution of the restaurants.

“I always say, ‘If you’re not having a good time, you should get out of the kitchen,’” Bauer said. “You should leave with a smile on your face.”

Because the pop-ups change menus each week, students prepare the food for pre-orders only. Customers can’t dine-in because of COVID-19, so students serve food to the customers through carryout, curbside pickups and delivery.

“It’s not as realistic because it’s a pop-up, but customers are paying real money, this is the real deal; it’s not paper money,” Kwon said. “We are providing a service and food, and at the end of the day we ask customers to provide feedback so we can correct and improve.”

The next pop-up restaurant will be April 5, and the theme will be barbecue. Serving takes place from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. and customers may choose from curbside pickup, carryout or on-campus delivery. Pickups are from Lacy’s Fresh Fare and Catering in Justin Hall. To pre-order, visit or email with any questions.