Prep time: Ray Zaragoza carries a tray of roasted turkeys as Tonette Wormley walks by on Friday.

It may look like just another restaurant opened on the burgeoning business strip along Oak Park Avenue just south of Lake Street. But step inside, and Eyrie is quite different from anything cooking in the village.

Located at 128 N. Oak Park Ave. in a former camera shop, the lunch spot just opened for business on Tuesday. The eatery is run by students from Robert Morris University’s culinary school, who will prepare meals as part of their curriculum.

They’re focusing on lunch — from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday — to accommodate students’ schedules and focus on the time when most are taking classes.

“The restaurant is, first and foremost, an educational experience for our students, so we want to make sure that we’re meeting their needs and not forcing them to work hours that they’re not able to do,” said Nancy Rotunno, executive director and dean of the Robert Morris Institute of Culinary Arts.

Eyrie’s menu is seasonally focused, changing four times a year. The initial offering for the fall makes use of what’s in bloom right now, with dishes such as the cream of curried squash and apple soup, or a pumpkin sponge cake with caramel sauce and cinnamon ice cream.

The small menu also includes sandwiches, a burger, salads and flatbreads and ranges in price from $3 for a cup of soup, to $14 for a pork-filled pastry called “Ploughman’s Lunch.”

Rotunno said the menu was developed by Chef Cheryl Corrado and a group of students who made suggestions, did tastings and went through trial runs of different offerings. But it wasn’t just the food that students had their say in, as business majors helped to crunch the numbers, and architects-in-training worked up drawings of the space as part of their studies.

The space is decked out in browns and greens to invoke a “tranquil” setting, Rotunno said, and to emphasize their focus on sustainability. Hanging light fixtures are fashioned from old Heineken beer bottles, and the bathroom floors from old wine bottle corks.

“The colors and the décor and the calmness of the restaurant are indicative of that green feeling,” Rotunno said.

Nick Jarmuz, the director of food service operations at the restaurant, estimates that there will be about 20 or so students working at Eyrie daily, with a different class rotating in each day. A couple of staffers, including Jarmuz, will also oversee the day-to-day operations.

Students won’t be allowed to accept tips while waiting tables, though any gratuities will be taken as donations to the Robert Morris University Scholarship Fund. Rotunno said the culinary school, which has an enrollment of 350 or so students on average, may eventually offer prix fix dinners and Sunday brunch at Eyrie.

CONTACT: marty@oakpark.com

J. GEIL/Photo Editor |
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