The Oak Cafe returns for the spring semester

Limitations caused by COVID-19 call for cuts at the Oak Cafe


The Oak Cafe at American River College is back in business for the spring semester of 2022 with continued COVID-19 safety protocols. (Photo by Alyssa Branum)

American River College’s student-run restaurant and bakery, the Oak Cafe, has opened its doors once again for guests in search of a sweet treat during the spring semester. The Oak Cafe had been inoperative for multiple semesters due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but as restrictions began to lessen and campuses opened up, so has the Oak Cafe for its second semester back.

According to Brian Knirk, head of ARC’s cooking department, there have been many changes in the restaurant industry since COVID-19. 

“The industry continues to have difficulty finding workers and many guests are still hesitant to be in public spaces. Many restaurants will continue wearing masks for a while just to make customers feel safe,” Knirk said in an email to the Current.

Still dealing with the effects of the pandemic, the Oak Cafe staff is navigating through the changes and limitations necessary for creating a safe environment for customers and staff.

“The café has been impacted in a number of ways, because the Oak Café class is a capstone class, and we really didn’t offer our introductory classes for over a year, the class sizes are small,” Knirk said. 

The Oak Café is also reducing the number of days they are open to coordinate with the number of students in the classes. 

According to Knirk, they will only be operating on Wednesdays and Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. this semester.

There have also been various other changes made to account for the smaller class sizes. 

“We have also removed seats from the restaurant and reduced the number of reservations we will take, partially to work with our smaller class sizes, and in part to make our guests feel safe,” Knirk said. “With smaller class sizes we have also reduced the menu slightly.”

Knirk says the Oak Cafe’s protocols to ensure safety have remained the same since last semester. 

“We have reduced the number of tables in the dining room to ensure social distancing. Everyone must wear a mask upon entering the building until they are seated,” Knirk said. “Everyone also must provide proof of vaccination to enter the restaurant. Even as mask mandates are lifted, the service staff (and all classes) will continue to wear masks this semester.” 

The Oak Cafe’s menu changes every week, but due to the restrictions that come with smaller class sizes, the cafe will now have a smaller menu.

“We offer only one appetizer, a choice of entrees, and one dessert. As class sizes increase again, and perhaps by the end of the semester, we may increase the menu options to our pre-pandemic standard of at least two appetizers, two desserts, and four entrée choices,” Knirk said.

Despite the current limitations caused by COVID-19, the Oak Cafe still hopes to achieve some goals while operating during such an era. 

“Providing a wonderful experience for our guests and our students as we train the future culinary and hospitality workforce,” Knirk said.

To make reservations at the Oak Cafe, contact (916) 484-8526.