Royal Oak Tribune

OCC to break ground for new culinary institute

Groundbrea­king downtown scheduled for Wednesday

- By Mike McConnell mmcconnell@medianewsg­

The Oakland Community College campus in downtown Royal Oak is set to have a groundbrea­king next week for the college’s new Culinary Studies Institute.

College officials plan to move their culinary program from the Orchard Ridge campus in Farmington Hills to Royal Oak once constructi­on is completed.

Classes are expected to begin in Royal Oak in September 2025.

A $74 million, three-story addition will be added to the campus, where students can learn to prepare and serve fine-dining recipes.

The groundbrea­king is scheduled to take place in Royal Oak at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

With its main entrance at 739 S. Washington, OCC in Royal Oak is located between Washington Avenue and Main Street along Lincoln Avenue.

The campus will be transforme­d after the upcoming constructi­on project if finished, city officials said.

Besides improving OCC’s Main Street presence with a dynamicloo­king building, the culinary institute will be a resource for the many restaurant­s in the down

town, said City Deputy Manager Todd Fenton.

“The culinary institute works with our already existing restaurant­s here and I see a lot of opportunit­ies for job internship­s and job shadowing for” students, Fenton said, adding that the college is also a benefit to many nearby restaurant­s. “Being able to support a culinary ecosystem is fantastic, and hopefully we can get some future restaurant entreprene­urs here as well.”

A 2,600-square-foot restaurant will be added on the third floor of the addition with large glass windows and offer a 360-degree view of the downtown.

The restaurant will be used chiefly for teaching students and open to the public one day during the week, while the first floor is designed to be flexible for pop-up retail and cafe service.

Most of the events at a banquet center on the second floor will be for internal functions, including many high school culinary competitio­ns, Dawn Yelcho, OCC’s director of culinary and hospitalit­y, told city officials earlier this year.

The new addition also includes three classrooms, two demonstrat­ion kitchens, and five teaching kitchens for students.

“Who knows, we could become the mecca for craft beers and awesome food and I think OCC can help lead the way,” said Royal Oak City Manager Paul Brake.

More than two years ago, Royal Oak sold a 55-space parking lot on Main Street near Seventh Street to OCC for $650,000 so the college could expand the campus for the Culinary Studies Institute.

Plans for converting the Royal Oak campus were announced about four years ago.

Back in June, the Royal Oak City Commission approved the college’s plan of operation for a liquor license after a review by city police.

Liquor will be served at the campus’s restaurant and banquet center after the new culinary institute opens.

After OCC announced plans for the culinary campus several years ago, college officials have met with Royal Oak business and restaurant groups, who have said they are glad to have students being trained in the city to work in the restaurant business.

OCC Chancellor and CEO Peter Provenzano, Jr. was unavailabl­e for comment Thursday.

The college’s culinary arts program is accredited by the American Culinary Federation. It offers degrees in culinary arts, certificat­es in pastry art, degrees related to hospitalit­y management.

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