Culinary arts program to double — perhaps triple — at Mott's new downtown Flint location

FLINT, Michigan — Enrollment in Mott Community College’s culinary arts program will be able to double — perhaps even triple — to as many as 600 students with the opening of its new home in downtown Flint. 

Moving into the old Woolworth’s building on Second and Saginaw streets, the three-story building is nearly 100 years old and offers more than 36,000-square-feet. That space will translate into the ability to enroll 500 to 600 students, said Dale Weighill, associate vice president for Institutional Advancement. 

“The first thing is we are trying to create is a destination program that is sort of a beacon for people who are foodies, who want to get into the food industry, maybe become an entrepreneur or an executive chef, or a caterer, something along those lines,” Weighill said in an update during a Flint & Genesee Chamber luncheon. “We want a highly visible program, and we think moving it downtown to Second and Saginaw will do that and … bring in people near and far that didn’t know that Mott had a culinary school.” 
The basement will house faculty offices, student lockers, a lounge, and dry and cold storage. On the main floor, a Coffee Beanery will open shop along with Applewood Cafe. There will also be a bar area for mixology classes, and multiple kitchens to teach every level of culinary classes. Upstairs there will be classroom space, conference area, demonstration kitchen as well as baking, pastry and confections labs. 

The $13 million renovation project is slated for completion in April or May and one of several developments ongoing in downtown Flint. In the last week, signage went up for both The Eberson arcade bar and ELGA Credit Union, both also located on Second Street. 

Related story: Flint starts 2019 with $200 million in ongoing development

The general public is sure to notice the addition of Applewood Cafe to the downtown daytime dining scene — but for students and those in the culinary arts program the move will also allow the program itself to expand its focus on entrepreneurship, networking and catering, said Michelle Glenn, acting vice president of Academic Affairs at Mott. 

“If you have someone interested in the management side of restaurant business, an opportunity is there as well,” she said. The program focuses on students’ skills through a hands-on education through basic cooking and pastry courses as well as advanced classes such as food and wine pairing, plated desserts and international cooking. 

Applewood offers “affordable fine dining,” Weighill said. Menu options will change each month, but some current plates include the Jack Steak sandwich with shaved ribeye, seared mushrooms, Jack Daniels, melted provolone and garlic aioli as well as jambalaya, cauliflower and quinoa meatless meatballs, macadamia nut crusted halibut, and grilled veal chop with wild mushroom ragout. 

“We always had a strong culinary program with our restaurant on campus,” Weighill said. “It gives students a chance to practice their skills but for the larger public, people might not know that we exist, because there really isn’t a lot of publicity for it.” That will will change with the new location that will open fully to the public this coming fall, that will serve multiple purposes, he said. 

There will be an outdoor dining option in warmer months, Weighill said. The project has faced construction delays, but Weighill said students will begin using the space in May for the summer semester. It will begin running at full capacity in the fall and Applewood will serve lunch 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday. 

The Coffee Beanery will open in May. Its will feature a rotating take-out menu and be open  hours are 7 a.m to 3 p.m. 

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