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Highline’s Fireside Bistro is expected to reopen when needed equipment arrives in the next few weeks.

Fireside Bistro expected to open soon

Faith Chao Staff Reporter Oct 07, 2021

The Fireside Bistro in Building 8 is now expected to open next week. 

The opening was delayed while the college waited for the delivery of essential equipment, including a point-of-sale register and an espresso machine. 

Pre-pandemic, food service was operated by a series of outside vendors who bid on the contract for the college. Food service included the Bistro on the top floor of Building 8, as well as the Union Cafe on the ground floor and Cafe 29 in Building 29. 

The most recent vendor, Aladdin, saw its operations shut down due to the pandemic. “We amicably decided to terminate the contract after the request to make changes to the contract which the college was unable to agree to,” said Rachel Collins, Highline’s conference services and events manager and now also general manager of the Bistro. 

Collins said more food service will be added as more on-campus classes are offered, and eventually food service will go out to competitive bidding once again. 

In the meantime, the Fireside Bistro will be operated by students from Highline’s Hospitality and Tourism program, as well as Central Washington University’s Hospitality Management program.  When open, the Bistro will offer espresso drinks, energy drinks, sandwiches, salads, soups and pastries.

Hospitality and Tourism (HOST) has slightly more than 100 students, under the direction of the department head, professor Justin Taillon. 

The program was able to take on food service thanks to a Restart Grant from the state that Taillon applied for and won. The grants are to help restart professional and technical programs in the community and technical college system that had been disrupted due to COVID-19. 

The college approached Taillon about HOST taking over the Bistro, and Taillon thought they could use the grant money to reopen the coffee shop on campus while providing hands-on experience for his students. 

“This is the fifth restaurant I have opened. I know that things never go as planned. Fireside Bistro is no different,” Taillon said of the delay of the Bistro’s opening. 

“From water lines to ice machines to espresso machine filtration, from coffee roaster distributors to COVID protocols, the unexpected should always be expected when opening a new business,” said Taillon. 

Students in HOST get to experience and see everything that is happening firsthand, Taillon said. “When our entrepreneurs open their own F&B (food and beverage) businesses in the future, they will know what to expect,” Taillon added. 

“HOST’s coursework will take place in the Bistro.” Taillon said.  “In fact, some coursework has already taken place in the Bistro. HOST 128 (Barista) took place in the space over the summer. HOST 150 (Food as Medicine, HOST’s nutrition course) is taking place in the space right now.” 

The Bistro is beneficial to students who are entrepreneurs and F&B focused, Taillon said. In the Spring 2021 Quarter, the Menu Design (HOST 129) course created the menu for the Fireside Bistro.

“HOST 130 (food and beverage perations) are the team members who will be working in the bistro,” said Taillon. 

The operations at the Fireside Bistro are in alignment with what is taught in HOST’s coursework. “It is HOST’s jewel, and we couldn’t be more excited about it,” Taillon revealed. “It is a true student laboratory in every sense of the word.” 

“Opening two-three weeks late is actually a lot better than most restaurants. We will be open next week I imagine.” Taillon added. “I hope everyone comes out to support the school’s living laboratory.”