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school’s program for Pastry Arts. The trajectory of each ProStart program centers around the state restaurant associations. Mandy Hines, director of hospitality and education for the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association (NCRLA), works with the North Carolina ProStart program and says there have been many successes working with restaurant chain executives. In the work that the NCRLA has done, they have found success with positioning the program as a pipeline for future workers. Hines suggests this message resonates with North Carolina-based hospitality companies. The NCRLA has secured significant sponsorship over the years. In fact, sponsors have helped North Carolina students get started with their careers; assisted with the team’s trip to D.C. for the ProStart Invitational; and helped them obtain supplies, other resources and financial gifts. For example, sponsors provided the team’s travel bags students took to the nation’s capital for the competition.

Developing a mutually-beneficial relationship Students benefit broadly from the softer skills, including customer service, PR and learning to speak professionally, notes Hines. Although expected as a part of being immersed in a culture of hospitality, this softer skill set can also start to mold a culinary or restaurant management student into a complete professional. Loyalty is another way that restaurant chains benefit from involvement in ProStart, Hines suggests. ProStart program students are not only employees, they’re also customers— potentially for a lifetime. Companies, like Brinker, Golden Corral and Marriott embrace ProStart, accompanied by the following and goodwill ProStart creates. Companies like these have led the charge in North Carolina and have seen “the potential that the program could have,” she says.

ProStart management and culinary competing teams at NPSI 2019. Photo by ProStart.

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Restaurant C-Suite Magazine | Summer 2019