dining room

Living Lab

Cafe Laura is cashless beginning January 2020.

Cafe Laura is an educational partnership between Penn State Housing and Food Service and the School of Hospitality Management. Inherent to the development of students as professionals in the foodservice segment of the hospitality industry is their successful completion of food service simulation courses designed to prepare them for management positions. Each time Cafe Laura opens its doors, it is a unique blend of instructional foodservice laboratory and contemporary dining facility open to the public Monday through Friday.

Cafe Laura By Day

During the day Cafe Laura serves as the Food Service Management Laboratory for the Hospitality Management course in the application of food service systems management, stressing the integration of purchasing, menu-planning, and cost analysis in quantity production of quality food. This course exposes the student to food service management, stressing the theoretical background that they have received in accounting, management, and nutrition and integrates these subjects into the daily operation of a food production and service laboratory.

As part of the management modules, students accept the responsibility of being in charge of the operation of the lab. As part of the staff modules, they also experience a number of work positions in the foodservice system. These positions help them experience first-hand the total integration of production and service in the various food venues of Cafe Laura.

Cafe Laura By Night

At night Cafe Laura is known for their theme dinners.  The theme dinners are part of the Advanced Food Production and Service Management Laboratory designed to give students an opportunity to gain experience in the wide range of skills and techniques that are normally associated with the duties of a hospitality manager. The emphasis of the course includes, but is not limited to, the responsibilities of planning, execution, and evaluation of full-service, theme oriented, a la carte upscale dining.

Students must demonstrate the ability to research and produce an authentic restaurant environment from a selected theme, and then manage the technical responsibilities involved in the development, production, and evaluation of a wide range of foodservice systems: sales, menu planning, recipe development and production, pricing, purchasing, facilities management, personnel selection and evaluation, and financial management.

Students are challenged to identify potential problems within the operation and make timely decisions as they interact with fellow managers, student associates, and guests during the production and service of their individual restaurant. An effective management exercise is contingent upon guest satisfaction, good interpersonal skills and team work with classmates, and the achievement of financial goals.