The Palm Leaf Cafe: Apex High’s very own restaurant
Three years ago, Apex High opened its own restaurant inside the school. Each year, it gets a little bigger, and it operates under the name The Palm Leaf Cafe. It offers drinks, pastries, and small lunch items for the Apex High admin and staff. The Cafe is completely student-run by the Apex High culinary course and advised by the culinary teacher, Erica Hoskins. I sat down and interviewed her during her third period, and, needless to say, the culinary class was like organized chaos.
Separate groups made separate foods independently, but the room was alive with talking, music, and clanking of various dishes. I stood in the “restaurant” part of the classroom, where round tables and chairs were set up in a dine-in fashion. A counter separated the kitchen and the sitting area, where a chalkboard menu, a cash box, and an empty case display for pastries sat. The room was bright and modern, as the decor were bright teals and pinks with palm plants on shelves. The Cafe was bright and alive, and I wished that I could sit and have a pastry myself.
Three years ago, the Palm Leaf Cafe was brainstormed because Hoskins knew that the “new space was coming.” One of her favorite vacation spots is Charleston, South Carolina, so she wanted a space in Apex for staff to feel like they were on vacation. In the restaurant space, there’s a little chalkboard that gives a countdown until summer break.
The Cafe is run and led completely by students in the culinary course. At Apex, there are 4+ courses where students learn how to cook and how to successfully run a restaurant. They gain experience through cooking, guest speakers, and working with chefs. They go on field trips and compete in Charlotte, North Carolina.
There is a little stigma around students cooking food, though, so the Palm Leaf has been running a little slower than normal. Since it is a fully functioning restaurant, it’s been inspected by the health department and hold a very high score.
The students create the menu every week since it changes. For lunches, they often make things that can be eaten quickly and/or taken home as leftovers, since the teachers have a short lunch period. Meals like soups, sandwiches, and quesadillas are the most popular. The cafe part is strong, since they have coffees and espresso-based drinks with pastries. Cinnamon rolls and cupcakes are favorites among the teachers and they often make a return in the weekly menu.
Not many schools have a fully-functioning restaurant inside its walls. The Palm Leaf Cafe sets Apex High from every other public school in the area. Lunch is served to the administration for first and second lunches and the Cafe is open all day on scheduled days!