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Student-run cafe reopens in the Poconos

The Laurel Lake Cafe at Monroe Career and Technical Institute had to close to the public because of the pandemic. It reopened last Wednesday.

MONROE COUNTY, Pa. — Every kitchen needs a few things, including a chef and people to serve.

"Cooking food makes me happy because cooking food makes people happy, and it makes me happy to make people happy," said Ianiah Green, MCTI Culinary Arts student.

"It's good. I love being in the kitchen, but the dining room is my safe space," said Jasmine Camacho, MTCI Culinary Arts student.

Jasmine's safe space is now back open to the public.

Laurel Lake Cafe is housed inside Monroe Career and Technical Institute (MCTI) near Bartonsville.

The student-run restaurant was closed because of the pandemic. It reopened just last week. This program prepares students for real jobs in the restaurant business.

"I have to say our staff was wonderful to us. They supported us because we were only open to staff. However, it is great to see some of the community already coming in. They saw the post on Facebook, and I have regular customers coming back, so it's fantastic to see them as well," said John Picarello, MCTI Culinary Arts instructor.

While this program is important to all students enrolled in it, it's especially important to seniors, and it's especially important right now. The pandemic forced a lot of people to leave their jobs in the restaurant industry, and now those business owners are having a hard time hiring. This program is a good stepping stone for them in the future.

"Off the bat, as we know, everyone is hurting for workers. If they are good here, they can probably get a nice entry-level job and move up really quickly. This also sets them up for post-secondary education as well," said Picarello.

Laurel Lake Cafe is open Tuesday through Friday.

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