The Bistro, a student-run eatery located in the Culinary Arts building, focuses on providing a culinary experience with the theme of “by students, for students.”
The Bistro is operated by culinary arts students as a part of the Culinary Arts Practicum course. According to Chef David Miller, a BJU faculty member in the culinary arts department, the Bistro serves as a simulation of an à la carte restaurant in order to give students experience working in that type of environment.
The Bistro reopened on Sept. 17 and will be open from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Fridays for the remainder of the semester. The Bistro also includes a bakery, which features a selection of pastries, donuts and other desserts. The bakery is open from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. from Wednesday to Friday.
The students manage most aspects of the Bistro, from creating and revising the menus to preparing and serving the customers’ orders. “My idea [for the Bistro] is really about empowering our students to make food that they feel [confident] with marketing to the student body,” Miller said. “It’s a blessing that [this class] can produce what they can produce, and it’s a blessing that the student body wants to come in and enjoy it.”
At the start of the year, Miller presented the class with an initial version of the menu to discuss and make changes. Alison Bradley, a sophomore culinary arts major, said that by the second week, the menu was almost completely different due to student feedback and suggestions.
Another sophomore culinary arts student, Benjamin Rogers, said he was surprised by how much control he and his classmates were given over decisions for the Bistro. “I didn’t think they’d allow us to switch things up or customize it to what we think we’d want,” Rogers said.
For the second year in a row, the Bistro has partnered with the University Marketing Association for promotion. Aimee Tewes, the president of the UMA, said the organization designed posters and used email marketing to promote the Bistro. They also manage the Bistro’s Instagram account, @bjubistro, which features student testimonials, introductions to the staff and pictures of menu items.
The UMA also has a few other promotional campaigns planned for later in the semester. “The theme this year is ‘by the students, for the students,’” Tewes said. “We’re trying to draw on the fact that you’re supporting your fellow students by coming.” According to Miller, the partnership with the UMA has been beneficial and contributed to more students visiting the Bistro in 2020 than in any previous year.
This year, the Bistro will take a slightly different direction than last year with the menu, including providing different options and focusing more on comfort foods. “We did some kind of vegetarian, vegan-friendly things like curry jackfruit and a couple of salads, and we found out those were just not popular,” Miller said. “The student body wanted comfort foods, so we thought, ‘Let’s bring in the burger. Let’s bring in the gnocchi.’”
Since the majority of the Bistro’s customers are students, affordability was also a consideration when designing the menu. Most of the items cost between $3 and $7, making the pricing comparable to many similar venues in the Greenville area. The Bistro accepts both cash and credit or debit cards.
Another new service the Bistro is testing this year is to sell family dinners for takeout on Wednesday nights. The menu will be completely different. Miller hopes the restaurant can reach a different demographic with items and quantities that would not be as appealing to most students but would be perfect for families.