Northampton Community College Opens Newly-Renovated Hampton Winds
By Colin McEvoy on August 19, 2021
Shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic began, Northampton Community College’s culinary program was approved to receive state grant funds to provide for renovations at Hampton Winds, the restaurant that serves as a training ground for NCC’s highly-regarded culinary arts program.
When Hampton Winds closed due to the pandemic, NCC got to work on the renovation project, giving the restaurant a new look, a state-of-the-industry kitchen, a new outdoor patio area, a new grab and go spot, and more.
“Enhanced safety measures, more to-go options, and other changes in the industry brought about by the pandemic means that food service employers are looking, now more than ever, to hire students with formal culinary training and fundamental business skills,” said Denise Francois-Seeney, dean of NCC’s School of Businesses & Industry.
“Our students are sought-out by the area’s best restaurant and hospitality service employers,” Francois-Seeney said. “We continue to be a strong partner in creating students ready to enter the workforce with solid foundational skills.”
The renovations are being supported by a $176,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and the highly-competitive Pennsylvania Department of Education Job Training and Education Program.
The Lehigh Valley Economic Investment Corporation (LVEIC) applied for the grant on behalf of the project. The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) provides administrative services for LVEIC, which is a Pennsylvania certified economic development organization.
“LVEDC and LVEIC were instrumental in helping us get access to grant funds from the state,” said Mark Erickson, President of NCC. “I want to thank them for their assistance and realizing what an important economic driver NCC is in this region.”
A soft reopening was held at Hampton in June, and a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony for the restaurant was held earlier this month.
“Time and time again, I hear our customers say that Hampton Winds is a hidden gem, but really, the best kept secret about Hampton Winds is the culinary program that trains our students,” said Francine Marz, director of NCC’s Culinary Arts Program. “… I really wanted the facility to match the modernized culinary curriculum our students now experience.”
Hampton Winds has an entirely new look, with large glass doors, new square tables, and a cozy but elegant new design. The new outdoor patio area includes seating for about 25 people, according to the college.
In addition to the new dining space, the restaurant has an updated kitchen space with new counter tops with a divide that allow culinary instructors to quickly jump in to help students working on the line. It also has updated heat lamps to keep dishes hot.
The newly-added Hampton Winds Express, a grab-and-go counter located in the lobby, offers fresh sandwiches and salads, soups, entrees, baked treats, and specialty ice cream. This enables students to experience take-out and ready-to-go meals, a fast-growing field in the industry due to the pandemic.
“I couldn’t have been more impressed with the renovations that were done to both the dining room and the kitchen line,” said Nicole Bittner, a culinary major at NCC who graduated this month. “It felt like a badge of honor, a reward for that year break, to be one of the first classes to be breaking it all in, knowing students following in our footsteps on this same line would learn both from our mistakes and successes.”
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