23, No. 14, Feb. 19, 2004
by Bill Wiegand
Beth Reutter (left), program coordinator in hospitality
management, and Jill North,teaching associate, instruct
students in Bevier Hall’s Quantity Foods Laboratory,
which includes the Bevier Café, the Spice Box
restaurant and the kitchen they share. A campaign
is under way to raise $1 million to refurbish the
Renovations planned for Bevier Café,
Spice Box restaurant
Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor
2 17-244-1072; email@example.com
secretly long for the prestige of having their very own tables in a
fine restaurant – or for an establishment that bears their name
– have the opportunity to realize those dreams through a project
under way in the department of food science and human nutrition.
The College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences recently
launched a $1 million fund-raising campaign to refurbish Bevier Hall’s
Quantity Foods Facility, which comprises the Bevier Café, the
Spice Box restaurant and the 3,894-square-foot kitchen that they share.
The café serves continental breakfasts and lunches daily to 100
patrons when classes are in session. The Spice Box is a reservations-only,
cook-to-order restaurant that serves three-course prix fixe dinners
or pasta and salad dinners with themes chosen by student managers. The
restaurant seats about 100 guests.
Teaching associate Beth Reutter manages the café and teaches
the lab section of FSHN 240, “Quantity Food Production and Service,”
also known as boot camp for students in the dietetics and hospitality
management programs. Students in the course work 10 hours per week in
the café, rotating through positions in management, the bakery,
the pantry and hot food preparation so that they can experience all
facets of the operation, including advertising, purchasing and daily
Located in the northwest corner on the second
floor of Bevier Hall.
Open weekdays when classes are in session
Continental breakfast: 8:30 – 11 a.m.
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
The menu is available at www.ag.uiuc.edu/~food-lab/bevier/menu.html.
The Spice Box
Meals served in 286 Bevier Hall.
Reservations are required and can be made by calling
Menus, seating times and other information is available
To receive an e-mail about upcoming meals, contact
Open only two nights
a week, the Spice Box is run by students in the fine-dining management
course taught by visiting teaching associate Jill North. The themed
dinner is the capstone experience for the seniors in the class, each
of whom is solely responsible for the restaurant on a designated night
and graded on everything from the creativity of their menu selections
and their décor to staffing and the evening’s profits.
Each student also recruits a professional chef or restaurateur to assist
with planning and executing the meal or just to help lure in hungry
connoisseurs through advertising. Professionals from restaurants such
as Andria’s Countryside, Edwardsville, and the Four Seasons, Chicago,
are among the guest chefs this semester.
While the facilities and equipment were state-of-the-art when Bevier
Hall opened in 1955, there have been few modifications since, and the
décor has become outdated and its aging equipment undependable
– prone to breakdowns capable of wreaking havoc with menus and
“Just this year alone, a vegetable freezer went down twice and
we lost all our inventory of frozen vegetables,” Reutter said.
“The dishwasher has been limping along, and I’ve had the
repairman in for several major repairs this year. Over the winter break,
our computerized system went down on us, and we’ve spent $500
just getting our cash register system up and going within the last two
weeks. Things happen one at a time for the most part, but, boy, when
they do, it’s hard.”
Construction of the Institute for Genomic Biology just west of Bevier,
which is forcing a redesign of the café’s entryway and
encasement of its west-facing windows, is also prompting the renovations.
An existing office will be converted into the café’s new
entryway, which will open onto a breezeway between Bevier and the institute.
Likewise, the Spice Box will get a glass entryway as well, along with
new windows and flooring. The kitchen will get a new ceiling and floor
The department’s “wish list” also includes new state-of-the-art
kitchen appliances and a point-of-sale system accessible from the restaurant
and the café.
The décor of the Spice Box and Bevier Café will get makeovers
as well to enhance the ambience, which will include rotating exhibitions
in both establishments of the work of artists from the campus and the
The café and restaurant are expected to be self-sustaining, and,
it is hoped, make a profit, to cover costs for labor, consumables and
other expenses. Therefore, the renovations are being funded entirely
through donations and not by the university, Reutter said.
ACES is hoping that the Institute for Genomic Biology, which is slated
for completion in about three years, will bolster sales and make it
feasible to offer a summer session of the quantity food production course.
“On any given day, there are going to be up to 600 scientists
next door,” said Kim Morton, director of development in the College
of ACES, who is spearheading the fund drive. “This is a great
opportunity for our students to feed that group twice a day in addition
to their usual customer base, so we want to have the renovations done
to coincide with the completion of the institute.”
To accommodate a larger volume of guests in the café, a grab-and-go,
self-service line for lunch patrons will be installed in addition to
the traditional service line.
Chicago-area alumni of the UI’s food industry and nutrition programs
viewed the preliminary designs and offered their suggestions on the
proposed renovations during a reception at the W Hotel in Chicago last
fall. One alum volunteered the services of his company’s kitchen
designer while others offered to donate appliances or buttonhole their
suppliers for contributions, Morton said.
An anonymous donor has contributed $125,000; ACES is still searching
for that elusive donor or donors willing to give $350,000 in exchange
for naming rights to the café or the restaurant.
Students are being actively involved in the project, offering suggestions
on equipment, floor designs and décor, although the final decisions
will rest with Reutter and North.
In fact, it was Reutter’s students who came up with the idea to
target recent alumni for contributions to pay for the 250 solid-oak
chairs and 85 oak-trimmed tables for the dining areas. Donors who contribute
$150, $200 or $250, the cost of a chair, a two-person table and a four-person
table respectively, can commemorate special people in their lives with
engraved brass plaques that will be affixed to the furniture.
Eric Fine, a 2001 graduate of the hospitality management program who
manages the celebrated chef Charlie Trotter’s Trotters to Go takeout
restaurant in Chicago, is contributing funds for two tables to commemorate
a family legacy of UI scholars: one table in the name of his grandfather,
who graduated in 1928 and turns 99 this month, and another table on
behalf of Eric’s two siblings and himself.
“The (hospitality management) program itself I thought was extraordinary,”
Fine said. “I got so much out of it, and it’s helped shape
who I am today in this business. This will be something for me to look
back on where I can say I’ve done the best I can to help the program
that I came to care so much for.”