Young ‘witches’ conjure up restaurant

(Gazette Photo by Rebeca Oliveira) Hostess Lucie Tremblay welcomes customers to Sandwitch, a school project lunch restaurant.

“Vampire’s Meals” served up by witches was on the menu of Sandwitch, a one-day restaurant operated by five JP home-schoolers.

The girls—Iris Schellenberg, 12; Violet Maxfield, 11; Colette Schien, 11; and Lucie and Annie Tremblay, 11— picked out the recipes, created the menus, sewed the servers’ aprons, cooked the food, decorated the dining room and seated their customers.

The girls spent hours prepping all the food the night before, said mom Robin Maxfield, the owner of the living-room-turned-restaurant on Centre Street in Pondside. They were all working by 8:30 a.m., too, for the noon opening on May 27.

Sandwitch opened to a near-capacity dining room—about 15 friends and family, as well as the Gazette—who were ready to order a Gonzo Garbanzo salad, Swamp Soup (creamy spinach and potato soup) or a Jajosefat sandwich (cheese, hummus and basil). There was a steady turnover of customers. About 50 people got their lunch at Sandwitch that day.

“It’s very real for them. They’re so proud of themselves,” Robin Maxfield said of the one-day restaurant.

The toy register at the hostess’s table held real cash, which would be used to pay for all the supplies before the girls each took a cut. The staff wore their uniforms of witches’ hats over their aprons to complete the look.

In the home-school class’s beginnings, Robin Maxfield taught the girls sewing and crafts. After the girls did a bit of cooking, however, they decided to open a restaurant.

Their first iteration of the restaurant project, Popover’s, earlier this year, was a breakfast sandwich operation that only needed to use the microwave, Robin Maxfield said. But the girls had bigger ambitions, and decided to try again—this time for lunch service, including homemade soups, salads and sandwiches.

By half-past noon, the girls were getting frazzled and trying to re-organize table service. At 1, they all switched jobs—servers became hostesses and busgirls, cooks started serving—so they all got to experience two distinct jobs.

“Waitressing is the hardest,” Schellenberg said.

“Waiting is a lot more hectic…It’s a lot harder than it seems,” Schien added.

By 1:30, Schien said, “My feet are killing me.”

Schellenberg said the biggest lesson was “to not panic.

“We keep panicking and then things keep going wrong,” she said.

Orders of In the Dark Soup (black bean) and Ogre Food (mozzarella, tomato and pesto sandwiches) kept moving out of the kitchen the whole two hours the restaurant was serving. The Munchkin Poop (chocolate cupcake) was a popular dessert choice.

“The food’s good, but the service…we’re getting there,” Robin Maxfield said.

Though there was a theoretical division of labor, the hostess, server, busgirl and cooks were all to be seen around the dining room, delivering orders. Some of those orders were served promptly, while some… were not.

The Gazette’s grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup (Grilled to the Cheese and Vampire’s Meal)—both delicious—arrived much earlier than a tablemate’s identical order. No one complained about the service.

Running a restaurant is “very hard,” Annie Tremblay said. “It’s a lot of chaos.”

Despite the challenges, the girls are still not done with food service projects. This month, they plan to host a one-day dinner, which was already being promoted among family and friends.

“It’s fun. You learn new recipes and have a whole bunch of learning experiences,” Lucie Tremblay said. Plus, “at the end, we get to eat all the leftover food,” she added.

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