Coffee customer Lauren Wright of Port Angeles, right, gets assistance at the counter from Career and Technical Education program students, from left, Jordis Vance, 17, Rayin Blewett, 18, and Maple Romberg, 16, on Friday’s opening day of the Wildcat Cafe at Lincoln Center in Port Angeles. (KEITH THORPE/PENINSULA DAILY NEWS)

Coffee customer Lauren Wright of Port Angeles, right, gets assistance at the counter from Career and Technical Education program students, from left, Jordis Vance, 17, Rayin Blewett, 18, and Maple Romberg, 16, on Friday’s opening day of the Wildcat Cafe at Lincoln Center in Port Angeles. (KEITH THORPE/PENINSULA DAILY NEWS)

Cafe opens at Lincoln High School

CTE program first phase for alternative school

PORT ANGELES — On the grand opening of Lincoln High School’s Wildcat Café on Friday, junior Azrael Harvey was charged with monitoring three large silver cooking pots filled with gently simmering simple syrup infusions: vanilla bean, rose and peppercorn and — his favorite — Thai chili and cinnamon.

Crafting in-house syrups for the coffee bar, baking cinnamon rolls, blackberry tart and bread for sandwiches and making soup from scratch are some of the signature features of the new student-run enterprise located at the Port Angeles School District’s administration building at 905 W. Ninth St.

The café is the first phase of Lincoln’s new Salish Sea Ecotourism and Hospitality program (SSEAH), part of the district’s Career and Technical Education program and the first for its alternative high school.

It is open from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; closed Wednesdays and weekends.

Angela Roszatycki Tamas leads the SSEAH program and, along with Lincoln principal Mace Gratz, spearheaded the effort to turn the commercial kitchen of the former North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center into an educational pathway blending academic and hands-on learning.

Career and Technical Education student Maple Romberg, 16, prepares to make an espresso drink at the Wildcat Cafe on Friday in Port Angeles. (KEITH THORPE/PENINSULA DAILY NEWS)

Career and Technical Education student Maple Romberg, 16, prepares to make an espresso drink at the Wildcat Cafe on Friday in Port Angeles. (KEITH THORPE/PENINSULA DAILY NEWS)

While the Wildcat Café is a place for teaching students about food preparation, it also teaches them about the economics of food service, marketing, merchandising, customer service, management and many other skills needed for careers in the hospitality industry — not to mention many other fields.

Tamas said her goal was to expand the Wildcat Café experience beyond the kitchen next fall and start to lean into the eco-tourism component of the program.

“I’d like to shuttle the kids to local farms and small businesses looking at what is out there, learning about our regional identity and how to grow our own business,” she said.

Lauren Wright said her son Damon Woodward, a Lincoln senior, joined the SSEAH program more because his girlfriend was enrolled rather than out of a desire to learn how to cook. But that changed after he became involved in setting up the Wildcat Café last fall, choosing and ordering furniture and helping with all of the many tasks involved in preparing it for opening.

“The experience has really broadened his horizons about what he thought restaurants were about,” Wright said. “He feels like this is his legacy that he will leave behind for other students.”

Lincoln junior Tara Coville said she knew her way around a kitchen before she began cooking at the Wildcat Café, but the experience has enabled her to polish and improve her breakfast burrito-making skills.

“The secret is not to make them get dry and use a good sauce that brings it all together,” Coville said.

The café has held a couple of soft-opening events since January to test the kitchen and fine-tune operations, but making food to order Friday was “kind of nerve-racking,” said senior Trinity Williams.

More in Williams’ comfort zone was a two-week-long baking marathon in December when Wildcat Café students made, boxed and sold 98 dozen Christmas cookies.

“We made about $2,000,” Williams said.

Tamas said the café will do catering and special orders if they aren’t too large. But this was just Day One and students were still working on developing and perfecting the menu.

The Wildcat café has a small stage for live mic events and karaoke, and when the weather turns warm an outdoor dining area with a view looking east over Port Angeles and the Olympic Mountains will open.

To contact, call 360-452-9502 or email wildcatcafe@portangelesschools.org

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