By Frank DeLuca SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – One teaching restaurant in Syracuse is helping people get back into the workforce.
With Love opened on Salina Street last December, and works with the Workforce Development program at Onondaga Community College to create paths to living wage jobs, and put graduates in positions with room to grow.
The program doesn’t only want to give people living wages jobs, but also, “give people the fundamentals and best practices so that they can get thriving wage jobs down the line,” program director Adam Sudmann said.
“The benefit of this program is that you have support of the workforce development program through OCC,” Venus Likulumbi said. She gratuated from the inaugural class, and now works for the program. “There’s a group of individuals who are very caring and understanding, and they go out of their way, and by having this restaurant here they actually give you hands-on.”
Likulumbi signed up as someone only cooking at home, and wanted to learn more about being creative and taking her small recipes and adapting them for restaurants.
“It gave me what I was looking for,” Likulumbi said.
Sudmann said no experience is necessary to join the program. The restaurant teaches basic prep and line cook skills, and gives students the opportunity to speak out and let the directors know where they want to focus.
Since the program started a year ago, 10 participants have graduated from the program, and have found work at places including:
- Salvation Army
Right now there are close to 100 available line cook jobs in or near Syracuse.
Sudmann said the line cook program takes two to three months to complete.
Michelle French helps teach the trainees in the kitchen, and said the techniques students learn aren’t the only takeaway.
“We’ve developed a camaraderie; a restaurant kitchen can get pretty intense, and we’ve had services that have been very busy, and so they get a sense of that,” French said. “There’s support when we’re busy, there’s support when we’re at a slower pace, and [the students] build confidence.”
She’s been here for only two months so far, and said the course has been a learning experience on her end, as well. French had only worked in the kitchen before working at with love, and now has the added responsibility of working at the front-end.
Sudmann hopes to expand the kitchen to accommodate more line cook trainees. Right now, the kitchen fits up to four cooks on the line. In addition to that, the restaurant only runs a single shift.
“Once we double our shift we can double our students to about 24 per year, and hopefully sneak in a few more,” Sudmann said. “I’m hoping to be at the 24 to 28 range when this program is in it’s full realization.”
To register for the program you can access the student inquiry form on the website.