PAUL SMITHS - A new restaurant, inspired by an upscale steakhouse chain, opens to the public today at Paul Smith's College.
Gina Martin, dining room manager of the Palm at Paul Smith's College, said the goal of the restaurant is to provide fine dining in a casual atmosphere that's complete with caricature wall hangings and smooth jazz.
"It's going to be very intimate, very small and very personal," Martin said. "All of our interns are taught, first and foremost, to be friendly with our guests."
Bryana Hoover, a freshman studying culinary arts and service management at Paul Smith’s College, learns how to broil steak from Tom Pollock, head chef at the Palm at Paul Smith’s College.
(Enterprise photo — Shaun Kittle)
Everyone working at the Palm is a student at the college, with the exceptions of Martin and her fiance, head chef Tim Pollock.
Wally Ganzi, co-owner of the Palm restaurant chain, was once a Paul Smith's student, too - he graduated in 1963.
With Ganzi's help, the college opened a "Mini-Palm" training center in 2005 to help students get the hang of upscale dining. Until today, though, the general public couldn't drop by for dinner.
There are 28 Palm restaurants, but the new incarnation is merely Palm-inspired and therefore not included among them. The Palm at Paul Smith's College offers a stripped-down menu of Palm entrees including salads, seafood and 18-ounce porterhouse steaks. It also has high-end appetizers like crispy calamari fritti and lobster bisque, and desserts including New York-style cheesecake and creme brulee.
But stripped-down doesn't mean there isn't a lot to do.
Hospitality and management student Chelsea Hutchinson said preparing for the restaurant's grand opening has been more work than she expected.
Once open, the students will be immersed in a fully functional restaurant, but in the meantime, Hutchinson and her colleagues spent hours cleaning, arranging chairs and setting tables.
"I'm excited to learn more about the Palm and this level of service, and I'm also excited to have the opportunity to work for such a great company on this campus," Hutchinson said.
The Palm at Paul Smith's is the second student restaurant on campus. The St. Regis Cafe, located in the Joan Weill Student Center, serves lunch Monday to Friday.
Renovations to prepare for the Palm's opening were funded by the Statler Foundation, the George I. Alden Trust and the Palm Restaurants.
The Palm at Paul Smith's College will be open Friday and Saturdays for dinner until Aug. 17. Reservations are required. Dinner will be served starting at 5:30 p.m., with the last seating at 8:30 p.m.
To view the menu or make reservations, visit www.paulsmiths.edu/thepalm or call 518-327-6443.