Students learn restaurant lessons

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Rocky Mount Preparatory School’s Tomea’ Boone, 17, left, and Chris Burk work together to coat chicken in batter Friday at the Tap@1918 at the Rocky Mount Mills.


Staff Writer

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Tap@1918, a new restaurant at Rocky Mount Mills, is usually open only for dinner, but on Friday it opened up for lunch to allow students from Rocky Mount Preparatory School to learn the business firsthand.

Roughly 30 students from Rocky Mount Prep’s Entrepreneurship and Internship classes went on the field trip, which featured lessons on running a business and cookery from expert restaurateurs Lou Reda and Justin Gaines, who co-own Tap@1918. The field trip also featured an elegant lunch that the students helped prepare themselves.

Jason Meyers, 16, said he was impressed with the working conditions at Tap@1918.

“I would like to work here,”Meyers said. “As long as I am somewhere with good people, I know I am in good hands.”

Tomea Boone, 17, said she felt the field trip was a great educational experience.

“It was fun. I liked learning how to batter chicken, dice fries and all that good stuff. I am looking forward to trying this at home,” Boone said. 

Reda and Gaines provided free meals for the students after all the hard work was done.

“Of course we gave them lunch,” Gaines said. “This is a community.”

Boone said she really enjoyed her hamburger and fries.

“I would recommend everyone to come here,” she said.

Tyrique Thomas, 17, said he was also impressed with the restaurant. 

“They have good hospitality and quality,” Thomas said. “I like that.”

Thomas said he has culinary aspirations of his own.

“I would like to join the military and learn to be a chef there,” Thomas said. “Then I can be a soldier and a chef at the same time.”

Haley Ward, who teaches the Entrepreneurship and Internship classes at the charter school, said the students gained a lot from the experience.

“The owners discussed how they got their start in business and even touched on some of the things we have talked about in class like creating a business plan. As they said in their presentation, even if the students never started their own business, they all could learn from this experience,” Ward said.

Gaines said he felt it was important that students learn that starting a business takes a lot of work and preparation.

“We gave them a glimpse of a different mentality. We are just working class people doing what we needed to do in life. We did not start out owning a restaurant. We both started out washing dishes,” Gaines said.

As the students prepared to leave, Reda told them that the experience had been a positive one for the owners as well.

“This experience was not as one-sided as it appears,” Reda said. “Hopefully, you will remember us when you are looking for a nice place to eat or work.”

Reda said he also welcomed the chance to meet the students.

“I have gotten to know you as well and I was impressed with how polite you all were,” Reda said. “This gives me hope for our future workforce.”