Skip to main content
Voices of ACES Blog

Pop-up restaurant is capstone project for hospitality management major

A woman's portait

I am a senior at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a major in hospitality management and a minor in business. I chose hospitality management because I love to cook, and I have had unforgettable experiences that have left a memorable impact on me. Throughout my time here at the university, I developed a deeper understanding of what it means to work in the hospitality industry, specifically in a restaurant setting. To me hospitality management means providing an open-armed, generous treatment to guests and creating a warm and safe environment through unforgettable experiences. Creating those memorable moments not only puts a smile on our guests’ faces, but also my own. It is the little things that make working in this industry worth it.

Along with my love for cooking, I have a passion to bake. It has always been a dream of mine to be a pastry chef. Here at the university, I have been able to make that dream become a reality. Over the past four years, my professors have challenged students to not only learn in the classroom but also experientially. From freshman to senior year, I was in three hands-on hospitality labs that pushed me outside my comfort zone with the intent to increase my learning experience. I was constantly challenged to create those memorable moments for guests.

As I enter my last semester, I am preparing to complete a capstone project. The task is to build a pop-up restaurant for one magical night. Everything I have learned over the last four years–accounting, finance, microcomputer applications, food production, and a professional internship in the restaurant industry–have prepared me for this project.

My capstone project, Citric, is a restaurant all about citrus fruits. The idea is to demonstrate new ways to use citrus in your everyday life. In the beginning, the project was very overwhelming due to an overload of course work and tight deadlines. Meal ideas were just flooding through my head and every little detail was nowhere near established. From countless meetings with my professors, to constantly retesting recipes, I finally pulled everything together. As the meal night approaches, all those restless nights and high-stress days are turning into a calming sensation. I feel as if everything I have worked for has paid off and it is time put my skills to the test and execute perfection. I trust that everything I can control is taken care of, and all the education I have acquired over the years has led me to accomplish my pop-up restaurant.

As I wrap up my last semester, I am grateful for the opportunities that were presented to me over the past four years. I have made great connections with my colleagues and professors. I look forward to what the future holds and owe it to the university for pushing me outside my comfort zone to learn experientially.