When we think of hospitality, we often think of warm welcomes and full stomachs, but there’s much more to hospitality than simply serving food and pouring drinks. Hospitality professionals plan, design and manage events to create unforgettable experiences.
Behind the doors of 59 E. Market St., York College of Pennsylvania’s (YCP) new home for the Center for Community Engagement connects students to hands-on hospitality management opportunities within the downtown York setting. Discover how hospitality management and economic development connect in the downtown community.
Mastering the Art of Hospitality Through Experience
During her freshman year in YCP’s Hospitality, Recreation and Sport Management program, Jennifer Taff, president of YCP’s Hospitality Society, recalls interning with a small restaurant that required her to take on big responsibility. “They just threw me out there before I really knew what I was doing,” she recalls. “Now I know what to expect and how to handle it.”
Hospitality and management major and president of YCP’s senior class Jimmy Di Guglielmo also had an eye-opening experience while interning with a catering company. “I had to bartend without ever doing it before,” he says. Instead of letting the experience scare him away from the business, he thrived. “That’s when I realized I wanted to do this,” he adds.
YCP’s approach to hospitality management allows students to learn the components of the hospitality field from event planning, food preparation and interior decoration to event marketing and budget management.
Students in the program get much of this knowledge by completing three internships before graduation. The students are also encouraged to intern with hospitality professionals, and the Center for Community Engagement helps facilitate those connections in York.
One business that’s working closely with several YCP interns is York’s Taste Test: A Pop Up Restaurant Series. Interns with Taste Test help developing restaurants come up with and execute concepts and business plans alongside professionals in the industry. “They get to learn things that textbooks couldn’t teach them,” says Allison Witherow, creative director of Taste Test.
Even when they’re not interning off campus, the students take learning beyond the traditional typical classroom setting at the Center for Community Engagement. “The Center houses a state-of-the-art food production lab where our students learn how to manage a commercial kitchen and hopefully intern, and perhaps work with, some of York’s leaders in the culinary arts,” explains Dean of the Center for Community Engagement Dr. Dominic DelliCarpini.
“We aspire to be one of the top hospitality schools in the United States,” adds John Hughes, department chair of YCP’s Hospitality, Recreation and Sport Management program. “We already have students joining the program at our school from different countries around the world.”
In addition to experiential learning offered by the College’s faculty, the Center frequently invites hospitality professionals from the York community to interact with students.
How Development Follows the Food
Armed with the management, budget, etiquette and culinary knowledge that students in the hospitality management program gained from their coursework, these students had the opportunity to plan and execute a public hospitality event.
On Thursday, Dec. 8, the Center for Community Engagement, together with the York County Economic Alliance and the York Young Professionals, hosted a “Development Follows the Food” panel discussion event for more than 100 guests.
Before the discussion, attendees were invited to sample cuisine from Tutoni’s Restaurant, the Blue Moon, The Left Bank Restaurant and Bar, White Rose Bar & Grill, Rockfish Public House, King Brät (one of Taste Test’s pop-up restaurant concepts), and hors d’oeuvres prepared by YCP’s hospitality and management students themselves.
“It was truly a student-driven event,” says Associate Professor of Hospitality Management Dr. Joseph Scarcelli (right). “They were responsible for everything having to do with the food for the event,” he explains. “The students initially came up with about 15 ideas for dishes. We discussed them and then narrowed the list to six.” After taste testing and recipe revisions, students decided on the final two to serve at the event.
“They also determined how much pre-prep was necessary and decided among themselves who would come in when to complete each task,” he adds.
Discussion panelists included York restaurateurs Toni Calderone of Tutoni’s Restaurant, Chef David Albright of The Left Bank, Rob McGrath of Roburritos, Allison Witherow of Tutoni’s and Taste Test, and Chef Darrell Tobin of the Blue Moon.
The discussion focused on how enhancing hospitality in York will enhance York’s development overall. “If you want to be entertained, you generally want to eat,” explains vice president of York Young Professionals Adam Nugent. “Look at George Street, Tutoni’s and Rockfish … as visitors are doing their shopping and looking around, they have a place to come and sit down and relax in an environment that they feel comfortable in.”
The panelists shared the idea that in order to advance York’s hospitality scene, it will take a combined effort from the restaurants, surrounding businesses and YCP students. York’s hospitality professionals hope to continue to mentor students in exchange for the innovative ideas that they bring to the table. They also hope to attract students outside of the hospitality major to experience the offerings of downtown York.
“Economic development and a city’s culinary scene work hand in hand in revitalization and in creating an attractive place to live, work and play,” says Kate Gaudet, manager of member services for the York County Economic Alliance.
“When I worked with the catering company, I learned aspects of the hospitality business that I never would have thought of,” Di Guglielmo says. “I found that you must be ready to accommodate all types of cultural differences that you wouldn’t expect.” By working closely with professionals in the community, students are becoming inspired to become stakeholders in this development. “I see York becoming more of a college town and that’s great,” he says.
“There’s been a great shift from York College being its own entity to where it stands today,” Nugent says. “Now, York College stands as a group that says, ‘We’re York College, and we’re a part of building something great.’”
Story by Brandi Mummert for YRK Magazine
Original photography from YRK Magazine