The Laker Current Staff Report
HARRISON — Parmesan crusted chicken, with vegetable, roll and beverage — all for $5.25, fresh made panini of the week, homemade soups, pizza and breakfast served all day. That’s not the menu at your favorite family diner. In fact, it’s typical of the everyday fare at Club Mid, MMCC’s cafeteria.
Some students don’t even know it’s there — tucked at the south end of the Harrison campus, across the walkway from the main building.
Open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the staff prides itself on its daily specials (which never cost more than $5.25) and homemade soups. There’s also a full grill, which serves hamburgers, chicken or steak veggie wraps, hot sandwiches, as well as the always popular fried chicken strips and French fries. Breakfast sandwiches, like the Mid muffin (similar to McDonald’s Egg McMuffin), are also available, along with cooked-to-order eggs with a meat choice.
Cathy Starkweather and Lois Aultman are the brains behind the menu planning. Both six-year employees with a background in food service, the duo really tries to serve the students, faculty and staff with a tempting, fresh and varied menu selection.
“Everyone says they want healthy foods, but that’s not what they buy,” said Aultman. Nonetheless, the cafeteria offers a salad bar, premade specialty salads like Cobb and Caesar, and fresh veggies and fruit in a grab-and-go container.
But the best sellers? “French fries, chicken strips and hamburgers, for the students,” Starkweather said. But the salads and healthy fare are popular with the staff.
Kelly Koch, MMCC’s director of auxiliary services, oversees the entire operation, which also includes catering on campus to groups and for private parties. That’s in addition to serving between 90 and 120 customers daily in the cafeteria.
“The cafeteria has done catering for many years,” Koch said. “I’m not sure if they have done it since the beginning, but they have for the 12 years that I have been working at MMCC.” She noted that catering requests are coordinated by Starkweather.
“We do keep busy (with the catering),” Starkweather said. “We’ve had groups from Mt. Pleasant and Traverse City.” And it’s easy to see why. With Starkweather and Aultman in the helm, the staff can prepare some elegant buffets, including chilled shrimp, smoked salmon, stuffed mushrooms and prime rib. Not to mention a dessert spread with everything from cheesecake and pie to chocolate mousse.
In addition to Starkweather and Aultman, the college has a part-time grill cook. All the other staff members are work-study students. Because such a large number are students, that means high turnover, which can be a challenge. “It’s good if we get some that stay awhile,” Aultman said, noting the jobs require some training.
But both ladies love their job and remain in search of new items to present to the students and staff. “Now we’re looking at purchasing some new buns for hot dogs,” Aultman said, noting they get some ideas from foods shows they attend.