Groups team to offer class on hospitality

By Chris Berendt - [email protected]

Nearly everyone deals regularly with food service employees, who make up a critical piece in the success of a restaurant. Quality dining experiences mean better business, which translates positively to the bottom line and contributes to the economic landscape of the community where it is located.

With that thought very much in mind, a few Sampson entities have partnered to ensure restaurants and other customer-service driven businesses locally can improve that hospitality. The Clinton Main Street Program, Sampson Community College and the Sampson County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) have developed a Food Services and Hospitality class to meet the needs of a Clinton and Sampson community that is only growing.

Organizers hope it is the first of many such classes.

The class is an eight-week course held on Monday evenings, beginning Sept. 10 and extending through Nov. 5. It is designed to give students the knowledge and skills to better prepare for employment opportunities and job retention in the food services and hospitality industries.

Course work includes manners and food; cultural communication; serving and being served; restaurant manners; and social skills that make a positive reflection on the industry. The subject matter focuses on the customer.

The course will be held in the City Hall Training room in the rear of Clinton City Hall, located at 221 Lisbon St. It will be taught by Michelle Lindsey, who is currently a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher at Lakewood High School.

Lindsey said she was excited to be a part of the partnership opportunity.

“The foundation of proper etiquette and hospitality is behavior that is accepted as gracious and polite in social, professional and family situations,” Lindsey remarked. “Good manners can mean the difference between success and failure in many aspects of life, especially in the food service profession. I think this class is a great chance to learn about etiquette and hospitality as well as food safety.”

Julie Stadig, chairwoman for the Sampson County CVB, knows plenty about not only operating a business, but about the food service profession. As owner of the Ashford Inn in Clinton, she does both on a regular basis.

“As a professional in the hospitality field for over 20 years, I am certain this course will be a valuable resource for those preparing to enter into any type of hospitality career,” said Stadig. “All aspects of Southern hospitality will be covered and discussed by Michelle Lindsey, who is a true professional herself.”

Stadig, along with Sheila Barefoot, executive director for the Sampson County CVB, said the ultimate goal was to make every effort to improve local businesses, which provides another quality destination for those inside and outside of the county.

“In staying true to the mission of the CVB,” Barefoot noted, “we are always seeking avenues to strengthen and enhance the opportunities for our industry partners to increase their profitability while working to enhance the experiences of visitors to our county.”

Mary M. Rose, Clinton Planning director and Main Street manager, said the hope was to get a variety of local restaurants and others on board as sponsors. Those sponsors are asked to participate by contributing $70 — the cost of one student registration.

“We are calling on restaurant owners in particular to sponsor students, due to the fact they may wish to sponsor one of their existing employees or someone who may seek employment with them in the future,” Rose stated. “We hope this will be the first of many classes which will benefit the hospitality industry in Sampson County.”

If fewer students register than commitment monies received, the cost will be divided among all sponsors who completed a form and they may be billed for a lesser amount, organizers said. The Clinton Main Street Program staff will bill the sponsors only after the first week of class to gauge the number of registered and attending students.

Students may pre-register by contacting Katie Brown at 910-900-4055 or Patty Oates at 910-900-4008.

Aimed at developing local workforce, providing better service

By Chris Berendt

[email protected]