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Facilities Update

Wise planning transforms garage to café in Maryville

Maryville High School’s renovated auto repair garage now houses its culinary arts program and Café Le Rêve
  • FOOD EXPANSION—Maryville City Schools’ created a state-of-the-art school building, which includes a kitchen, classroom space and restaurant dining room for the community. It allows the district to offer expanded culinary arts programs, as well as manufacturing, construction and engineering programs.
  • CARS TO CAFE—Smart planning on the part of Maryville City Schools’
administrators led to buying a former auto shop and its land to create a state-of-the-art school building.

WHAT: Culinary arts building

WHERE: Maryville High School, Maryville City Schools, Maryville, Tennessee. A renovated auto repair garage now houses Maryville High School’s growing culinary arts program as well as Café Le Rêve, a dining enterprise that caters to the local community and is partially operated by students with cognitive disabilities.

CHALLENGE: Maryville High School sends 85 percent of its students to college, but administrators wanted to improve programs for those headed for a trade or vocational school.

Administrators had launched career-focused programs in business and computer technology, and then added a culinary arts class last year to provide food preparation training in conjunction with the vibrant local dining scene. However, space on the existing campus was limited.

“We’re sort of ‘landlocked’ on 12 acres in the middle of a subdivision,” says Mike Winstead, the district’s director of schools. “So when we’ve had the opportunities to buy any of the surrounding houses or buildings, we have to take advantage.”

SOLUTION: The former auto shop sat on an adjacent parcel about 70 feet from the main building. It adds 4,500 square feet, including a state-of-the-art teaching kitchen, classroom space and a restaurant dining room.

Blackberry Farms, a resort in the nearby Great Smoky Mountains, furnished all the culinary equipment in the kitchen and helped design the public dining room, donating $210,000 toward the facility.

The Café Le Rêve, moved from a temporary building next to the high school, already provides lunches—prepared by instructors and served by the students with cognitive disabilities—to nearly 70 local residents from Tuesday to Thursday each week.

The new culinary arts program—with a full menu of classes—starts at the beginning of August with 250 students who work in an extra kitchen separate from the cafe.

“By moving our culinary program to the new building, it also allows us to expand our manufacturing, construction and engineering programs,” says Winstead. “This facility is a good contribution to the community as a whole, but also for future generations of students who are going to go through the program.”

COMPLETED: April 2017

COST: $1.9 million

PROJECT TEAM: Architects: Cope Architecture (Knoxville); construction: Merit Construction (Knoxville)

Ray Bendici is special projects editor.