The first grade class at Christ Church Day School recently opened a one-day pop-up restaurant to raise money and awareness for the Monarch School, a K-12 school dedicated to educating the homeless children of San Diego. Eager to replicate the success of the prior first grade class’s pop-up restaurant, and with the desire to give back, the students pleaded with their teacher, Christine Sneed, to keep the tradition alive by opening a restaurant so that they too could learn more about the industry and, at the same time, raise money for those less fortunate. Guided by this charitable spirit, the students sought inspiration through a real-life, behind-the-scenes tour of Island Pasta, courtesy of owners Carol and Brant Sarber.

Unphased by the hard-work needed to run a restaurant, and to turn their desires into reality, the group of 6 and 7 year olds created a business plan and headed to meet with Bernice Zimaro at Cal Private Bank to inquire about a loan. Cal Private Bank graciously kickstarted the restaurant with a $500 gift and, from there, the students divided into marketing, design, and food selection teams. They created flyers and invitations, designed a menu, and settled on the food and drinks to be offered to their patrons.

Enamored with the reading curriculum at CCDS, the first graders opted for a Dr. Seuss-themed restaurant—naming the restaurant “Hop on Pop Pasta Shop.” The design team wove the Seuss-theme throughout the restaurant, giving each table a whimsically-worded designation, decorating the restaurant with iconic scenes from Seuss’s imagination, and paying homage to Seuss’s eccentricity through menu items such as “Yink’s pink ink drink” (i.e. lemonade), “Grinch’s green pasta,” “Seuss salad,” “Truffula tree fruits” and the star of the fare—Cat in the Hat cookies, courtesy of Coronado local and cookie entrepreneur, Shelley Fialkowski.

The students applied for different positions at the restaurant and, on the day of the restaurant’s launch, they took responsibility for confirming reservations, being the host/hostess, waiting on the customers, and cooking the food. As with the reading, writing, and communication skills they showcased in orchestrating all facets of the restaurant-opening experience, the first graders (who came into the year with basic math and money proficiency), tabulated the bill, made change, and learned the correlation between quality of service and tipping.

Reviews of the restaurant by patrons were unanimously positive, with one calling it “Seusstastical!” From the design to the customer service, to the food preparation and attention to detail, the restaurant was a resounding success. The kids learned about the entrepreneurship process, and the value of coming up with an idea and working hard to achieve it, all the while demonstrating the impressive advancements they made over the year in their core proficiencies, and folding their curriculum into a charitable endeavor. The students will now go back to the bank to repay the “loan,” and to present the Monarch School with a check for over $1,800.

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