Oak Café hopes for re-opening in the fall

Most ARC hospitality management classes can’t be operated remotely, which has caused the Oak Cafe to remain shut down until further notice


Students wait in line at the Oak Cafe bakery on opening day on September 19, 2019. American River College hopes to bring back a series of “impossible to convert classes,” including the hospitality laboratory courses in which students operate the cafe, for the fall 2021 semester. (File Photo)

The American River College student-run restaurant and bakery, Oak Café, has not been able to operate due to COVID-19 regulations since last March, according to Brian Knirk, ARC adjunct professor of hospitality management. Due to these circumstances, most of the hospitality management laboratory classes have not been taught since the campus shut-down. 

According to Knirk, during on-campus learning, the bakery is run by the baking students along with the help of the catering students, selling coffee, sandwiches, and salads along with other bakery items. They are normally open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. or until products have run out. 

The Oak Café restaurant is a two-part student laboratory class separated by the culinary students running the kitchen and the hospitality management students running the dining room. The Oak Café is normally Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Knirk says he does not expect students to have the proper professional laboratory equipment at home which is one of the reasons that these classes were unable to be converted to an online format.

“It is our hope that with the vaccine rollout that with proper protocols, we will be able to conduct labs again by fall, and possibly as early as this summer,” Knirk said.

While many of these laboratory classes could not be operated during remote learning, the Oak Cafe did continue to provide the ARC community with free resources. For example, in the ARC Arts Newsletter, the Oak Café provided recipes for students, faculty and the ARC community. 

Even though the Oak Café provides socially distant resources for the public, the future for the restaurant remains undetermined but preparations for when it will reopen have already begun. 

“I’m not sure what the café will look like —at some point dining will return to what it was before, but there will need to be modifications, in terms of protocols as well as new or continued opportunities for food to go,” Knirk said.