If you're looking for a new place for lunch in the Plymouth-Canton area, you might find it in an unlikely place — Salem High School. The Rock Cafe, located next to the cafeteria, is an entirely student-run restaurant.
"They write our menu, write the recipes, calculate food costs and keep track of the budget," said Diana Woodward, who manages the students.
On top of that, the students make everything from scratch, even the chicken stock.
The students who work at the Rock Cafe are in Woodward's "Hospitality and Culinary Arts" classes. She said there are 53 students this year who work on the cooking, serving, clean-up and management.
"A busy day is about 90 customers, a slow day is 60 customers and a very busy day is about 115 customers," she said.
Because of the restaurant's short hours, 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. four days a week, the students work quickly to get their orders out.
Everything on the menu is under $5. Popular items are the pastas, specials and special sandwiches. The Rock Cafe has a pasta station that features each of the five master sauces like béchamel and hollandaise. Woodward said the specials are not duplicated in a semester, so visitors can always expect something new.
The Rock Cafe is also on an eco-friendly path. Woodward said they use a composter to dispose of their organic scraps and a hydroponic greenhouse for herbs.
"We grow all of our own herbs," she said. "By the end of year, we'll have our own tomatoes, too."
Joe Curcuru, a junior at Plymouth High School, is one of Woodward's students.
"I was looking into the culinary field," he said about why he registered for the class as he, in his chef coat, sliced tomatoes in the culinary arts full-service kitchen.
Curcuru said his favorite moment so far was when he made omelets at a Rock Cafe buffet.
"I got to flip them in front of people. It was cool," he said.
The Rock Cafe is closed Mondays to give students time to prepare for the week. It also doesn't open until mid-October for students to have the chance to practice cooking and serving, for many of whom it is the first time.
The Rock Cafe is open 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. Tuesday through Friday. Reservations are appreciated by calling (734) 582-6895 but walk-ins are welcome, Woodward said, and visitors can check in at the Salem High School front office.