The Bytes Cyber Cafe is serving students at Tuscaloosa Career & Technology Academy after more than 100 attended a ribbon-cutting event Thursday evening.
The à la carte cafe is open for breakfast and lunch daily. TCS' Child Nutrition Program is partnering with TCTA's Hospitality and Tourism program to operate classes through the cafe.
TCTA Principal Danielle Morton says TCTA's goal is to prepare students for the workforce by providing them with live work training through the use of industrial cafeteria equipment used in the restaurant industry.
"Once our kids leave this training, they should be able to work anywhere in Tuscaloosa," says Carlton Robertson, CNP director. "I mean anywhere."
A CNP staff and manager will be available to train students in cooking, learning managerial responsibilities, stocking, cleaning, health department regulations, event planning, catering, earning the ServeSafe credential and more.
TCTA culinary student Keyona Paulk says the program will also teach students vital communication techniques.
"It gives you good people skills," Paulk says. "You have to learn how to talk to people, greet them and thank them for coming. It's something you will have to know how to do if you're going to get a job after high school."
Students are also receiving guidance through Simulated Workplace Environment, which is an educational initiative being piloted at TCTA this year.
"This is a great opportunity not many students in the state of Alabama will have," Morton says.
Career Technical Education Director Kelly Norstrom, Morton and Robertson conceptualized plans for the cafe in February after they realized there was leftover cafeteria equipment following school consolidations per the strategic plan.
The cafe is set to be available to nearly 60 people in the evenings when Shelton State students, the Ollie Washington Project participants and others are on campus.
Administrators say they plan to eventually extend the cafe to the community as the program builds.