Hospitality students create online portal to support Centre Wellington restaurants

·2 min read

FERGUS – A Centre Wellington District High School hospitality class has created an online tool that highlights the area’s local restaurants and encourages support for them.

Christopher Jess, chef instructor for the hospitality and tourism class at CWDHS, said in a phone call said they had to dramatically shift from what is normally a hands-on cooking class.

The first week of remote learning this year, the students created a website called Our Kitchens: A Guide.

It lists every local restaurant, their hours and how they can be reached to order food during a tough period for the industry.

“The hospitality industry itself works on, not the biggest margins, and a really seismic shift like this is going to require a lot of effort,” Jess said. “Whatever we can do to help it get through this period and survive is in all of our interests.”

The website also lists most-used review sites.

It encourages people to send a positive review to the restaurants and those with negative reviews to directly contact restaurants so they have a chance to rectify any errors.

“Tourists use online reviews to help decide where they want to spend their dollars,” said student Avery Ballaban in a press release. “We have a duty to help out our businesses where we can.”

Jess explained this is a way for students to consider how impactful a review is to a restaurant in a tourist town and to show solidarity with local owners.

“It’s an act beyond just ordering a burger,” Jess said. “Now you can also tell your friends and send a review and potentially have a greater impact on somebody else’s future decision making about where they’ll spend their money.”

Jess noted the hospitality and tourism is very important locally and could be an industry that employs the students in the future.

He said online teaching and learning has made it difficult to be as engaging but the students responded well to this project.

“Finding something relevant, at least it could hook us for a bit and if it can be helpful to someone in our community … then that’s great,” Jess said.

Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,