An affordable meal out doesn’t have to mean fast food. One option in Northeast Ohio is eating at a student-run restaurant. These restaurants give students pursuing careers in the hospitality industry practical experience while giving you a deal on your meal.
The Ranger Cafe at Lakewood High School is run by West Shore Career-Tech Culinary Arts students who attend Lakewood, Bay Village, Rocky River and Westlake schools. It offers weekly specials in addition to its regular menu. It’s open from noon to 1:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Reservations are recommended (216-529-4165 ext. 1). The Ranger Cafe is closed during school breaks and when bad weather cancels classes. Lakewood schools’ winter break is from Dec. 24 through Jan. 6.
Polaris Career Center in Middleburg Heights also has a student-run restaurant. Mise En Place is open from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from October to May. Reservations are recommended here as well (440-891-7685). You can get soup to go in addition to the dine-in options. If for no other reason, call ahead to make sure the school will be open on the day you want to go.
Cuyahoga Community College has two student-run restaurants, one downtown and the other on the East Side. Alere is in the Jerry Sue Thornton Center on East 22nd Street near Tri-C’s Metro Campus. Cafe 4250 is at the Eastern Campus in Highland Hills, but it’s temporarily closed.
Alere generally is open for breakfast from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, but it’s best to check the website to confirm days and hours and call 216-987-4080 for reservations.
Looking ahead and farther west, Lorain County Community College is opening a student-run restaurant, Sage & Seed, in mid-January. Check the website for more specific information about operating hours.
A couple of things make this restaurant different. It will be open for dinner, so its prices are generally higher than the others. Also, tips are prohibited. Diners will be asked to donate canned goods and nonperishable items at the Commodore Cupboard station in the lobby instead.