Mules Cafe 2023

Mules Café set to open for the last time on North Westwood
Posted on 09/27/2023
TCC culinary arts students, under the instruction of Chef Brandon Moon, prepare for the re-opening of the Mules Café.

The Mules Café is set to re-open to the public this week, concluding an approximate 45-year run at its current location in the R-I Administrative Building.

The culinary arts class is anticipating a midyear move to the future location on the Poplar Bluff Technical Career Center campus in the state-of-the-art Culinary Arts Center, which is about midway through construction.

“Come to one of our openings this semester to get a final taste of the original Mules Café,” stated Brandon Moon, culinary arts instructor. “We have a new crop of students who are going to work hard to provide the best food we can produce!”

The Mules Café, located at 1110 N. Westwood Blvd., is open to the public from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday and Friday each week, unless school is out. Carryout customers are asked to place their order a day in advance by calling 573-785-5768.

Having started during the 2016/17 school year, Chef Moon transitioned the café from buffet style to full-service cooking to order for students to gain experience managing a menu. “The ultimate goal is to help students bridge the gap between education and career, making a more realistic restaurant while still being a classroom,” Moon explained. He pointed out, however, that the present kitchen was set up to be more conducive to the previous batch-style cooking.

The Senior Showcase in the spring also evolved on Moon’s watch to a single day dedicated to upperclassmen creating individual menus in mock restaurants for the public to sample, instead of a rotating senior designing the lunch menu for a given service. Moon’s desire, he said, is to bring in restaurateurs to potentially recruit the soon-to-be graduates.

Upon completion of the program, participants earn a two-year certification through ProStart, a curriculum model Moon helped adopt with industry input. Students must complete 400 on-the-job hours, about half of which occur in the Mules Café. The remainder can be accumulated in a partnership with Chartwells, otherwise through internships at local restaurants.

In June, ground was broken on the future 3,240-square-foot facility, which will connect to the existing 1,400-square-foot staff breakroom on the main building behind the High School on Oak Grove Road. The Culinary Arts Center was designed by Dille and Pollard Architecture of Poplar Bluff with Zoellner Construction serving as contractor.

TCC senior Jazmin Delk said she is excited about the new pizza oven and other equipment, including an indoor smoker. The kitchen is doubling its fryers, flattop grills and range stoves. Jazmin also said she will appreciate a sink that is closer to the cooking area.

Corbin Murrell, a junior, added that he looks forward to no longer having to bus over from PBHS, losing instruction time. Above all, both students agree that they will enjoy a kitchen with air conditioning. The hope is to be able to relocate to the new facility over the winter, with a temporary closure anticipated, according to project officials.


Cutline: TCC culinary arts students, under the instruction of Chef Brandon Moon (left), prepare on Tuesday, Sept. 19, for this week’s re-opening of the Mules Café.

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