MURRAY, Ky. — Students in the nutrition, dietetics and food management program at Murray State University have opened their own pop-up restaurant for the public featuring unique menus and recipes. Lunch is served in the Oakley Dining Room, located in room 204N of the Applied Science North Building, every Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. until May 2.

As a requirement for individuals majoring in nutrition, dietetics and food management in the School of Nursing and Health Professions, students in the senior capstone course taught by Dr. Karen Byrd, RD, LD, are responsible for planning, producing and managing meals to be served to guests in the dining room. A different student will serve as manager each week to implement their vision and menu as their classmates prepare and serve the meal as instructed by the manager.

“In this course we really learn from feedback to improve our food service and management skills, so any outside support and feedback we can get will really help us in our future careers,” said Katie Gipson, a senior dietetics student from Paducah with aspirations to work as a school food service director.

A student serves a plate of food to a guest in the Oakley Dining Room.
Pictured is Jessica Orscheln serving a guest in the dining room.

In organizing their own pop-up restaurant, the students spend the semester conceptualizing their menus, creating websites, acquiring supplies, teaching their classmates recipes and managing the front of the house and kitchen during meal service. The students’ experience from prior courses in nutrition, food preparation, food science, business management and more is crucial to the development of their menus and execution of service. The project also helps students continue to develop transferable and marketable skills for future employers, such as critical thinking, time and budget management, marketing and customer service.

“I hope that students not only develop knowledge and skills in food preparation and service but also develop confidence in their ability to oversee and execute this multi-component project,” Byrd said. “That first job can be intimidating. Hopefully this project will allay some potential fears because they have already gained experience taking what they learned in the classroom and putting it into practice.”

Students, faculty, staff and community members are invited to RSVP and attend the unique lunches made by students each Wednesday through May 2. Individual menus include:

— Eat Like a Leprechaun (March 28; $8 per person) managed by Casey Montgomery and featuring pot o’ gold eggs, shepherd’s pie, green beans and a choice of dessert

— The Marvelous Mediterranean (April 4; $10 per person) managed by Kaylie Ruderman and featuring feta and herb dip with vegetables, Greek chicken gyro, quinoa and a choice of dessert

— “Chi Mangia Bene, Vive Bene” (April 11; $10 per person) managed by Katie Gipson and featuring caprese stuffed mushrooms, spinach and ricotta lasagna, Italian tossed salad and a choice of dessert

— A Meal of Greatest Hits (April 18; $9 per person) managed by Caprisse Johnson and featuring an “ABC” salad, lemon garlic cod, roasted zucchini and yellow squash, cilantro lime rice and a choice of dessert

— Wide World of Sports (April 25; $8 per person) managed by S. Patrick James and featuring black bean soup, pork chops, roasted red potatoes, green beans and a choice of dessert

— Derby Day (May 2; $10 per person) managed by Jessica Orscheln and featuring blackberry and blue cheese salad, stuffed chicken, roasted zucchini sticks, sweet carrots and a choice of dessert

View the full menus and RSVP at Each menu is fixed and substitutions are not possible. Seating for the dining experience begins at 11:30 a.m. each Wednesday until May 2 and a reservation is required. Payment for the meal is cash or check only.

A student talks with a group of four diners at a table.
Pictured is Casey Montgomery speaking with guests during her time as manager of the pop-up restaurant on March 28.
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