Bernie’s Place in Lawrence Township McKenzie Career Center student run restaurant

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LAWRENCE, Ind. – There is a restaurant on the northeast side of Indy that is run entirely by high school students.

Bernie’s Place is now open and serves more than delicious food. It’s about teaching local teens about the culinary arts.

For Tashaun Coleman, this lively restaurant is one of the highlights of his final year.

“I love having conversations, I’m a conversationalist,” said Coleman, an elder at Lawrence Central High School when asked why he enjoys being a waiter at Bernie’s Place.

Coleman is one of over 50 students working here. This is part of their curriculum in the culinary arts program they enroll in. While Coleman is still not ready to be a chef, the possibility is there.

“If that’s your path that you want to go, it gives you quick access to what you’re going to do,” Coleman added.

The student-run restaurant is located at the McKenzie Career Center in Lawrence Township Schools.

Thursday was opening day and Gracie Sahm had been looking forward to it for some time.

“Last year we were closed because we had a limited schedule with students,” Sahm added.

Sahm is the instructor of the program. On the days when the restaurant is closed, its students participate in labs. Learn every position it takes to keep the restaurant open and running, from the kitchen to the cashier.

“They learn all the chef skills, the management parts and things like that,” Sahm said.

After completing the program, students can receive certificates and college credits, with the hope that they will seek a career in the culinary arts. This comes at a time when there is a shortage of workers in the service sector. Sahm says his students are doing their part to help.

“Almost all of my students are employed in the restaurant industry,” Sahm said, “They are doing their best to fill the shortages.”

Serve quality food and education, creating the perfect entry to life skills these students can use, outside of the classroom. Or in this case, the restaurant.

“If you’re not having fun with it, why are you doing it?” Coleman asked.

Bernie’s Place is open at McKenzie Career Center for lunch Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.


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