ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- In a vacant space inside Village Gate, between Salena's Mexican Restaurant and Nox Craft Cocktail Lounge, work will soon begin on a new restaurant that will be operated by students in East High School's culinary program.
It's the brainchild of Aaron and Kelly Metras, owners of both establishments, and it's their way of giving back to the community.
"Kelly and I really believe in the city of Rochester," Aaron said. "We're committed to the city, we have businesses in the city and we want to see a strong future for Rochester and honestly that's what we get out of it. We want to invest heavily into our community so that we can get that return."
The culinary program at East has grown considerably since its inception 16 years ago and gives students an opportunity to earn work credits. The restaurant will teach students to be employable adults and lead them through the process of creating and building a business.
"What this is going to allow our kids to do to step out into the real world, bring everything that they've learned in the first four years in the program and actually put some meat to the bones of everything that they've gone through," said Chef Jeff Christiano, East High Culinary instructor.
The students are not only responsible for menu planning, cooking and managing the restaurant, they're also involved in designing the restaurant's layout. It features an open kitchen allowing patrons to watch students prepare their meals. It'll seat about 60 people inside and also offer patio seating during the summer months. The decor will resemble the Metals Cafe at East High.
"At the Metals Cafe, it's a strip of metal on the side of the wall. We're going to have a strip of water tile on the side of the wall so it will reflect the Metals Cafe as well. The color scheme with the chairs is going to bring a lot of vibrant colors to it because it's more of Caribbean eating," said Dominique Brown, a culinary student.
It'll be Caribbean soul fusion cuisine to be exact.
The restaurant is on track to open in June. Fifteen to 25 students are expected to be employed at any one time, but yearly profits will be distributed to organizations that assist with combating childhood hunger in Rochester.