At 3 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon, Allègre’s staff hurries to lay out precise place settings and perfect that night’s recipes. Walking in, a person would never know that the entire restaurant is the work of Ball State students who have limited experience in fine dining.

Allègre is Ball State’s student-run dining experience. It is part of a quantity food production class and is meant to give hospitality and dietetics majors the chance to gain real-world knowledge and skills. 

The recently renovated dining space is located in the middle of the Applied Technology building and is open on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights during the semester.

To make a reservation, visit Allegre's website or contact them by phone (765-285-5391) or email at fcs@bsu.edu.  

Each week, there are two student managers: one in the front of the house for the wait staff and one in the back with the kitchen. 

Managers collaborate to research and choose a region of the United States, create a menu based off of the region and execute the night’s meal. This is meant to give all students the chance to apply their managing skills.

Alexa Louden, a senior hospitality and food management major, was a kitchen manager during the restaurant’s test-run night.

“It was fun to be able to create the menu and then see it followed through and see people enjoying it. There’s instant gratification,” she said.

Students are mentored by Chef Clemens Averbeck, the course’s instructor. Originally from Germany, Averbeck has years of experience working in fine restaurants internationally — he owned his own prestigious German restaurant at 24 — and teaching other chefs how to improve their craft. 

He found this course interesting because of its unique goal.

“This course is designed not to introduce students into the culinary arts, but into managerial skills — planning, organization, restaurant management. That is what this whole thing is about,” he said.

Instead of focusing purely on the menu, the course emphasizes the ability of the students to complete the tasks at hand. The idea is that if the restaurant is managed well, everything else will fall into place. Though this can be difficult, the hands-on experience is invaluable.

“You look to chef for direction, and he kind of just looks at you and says, ‘You’re the manager, it’s your call,’ and then you realize you need to give people direction, because unless you assign them to a task, they don’t know to accomplish it,” Louden said. “It shows me how to be a good manager, whether that be for a kitchen or not.”

While students gain experience, patrons are able to enjoy a fine-dining experience right in the middle of Ball State’s campus.

“I thought the food was exceptional for a student [run] dining experience,” said Michael Lorenzano, a senior family and consumer science major. “My favorite part was definitely getting the opportunity to see classmates and friends engaged in a formal dining experience that they put together.”

Allègre also builds bonds between the students. Louden explained that because the hospitality and dietetics majors are relatively small and have overlapping classes, many of the students know each other well before working at Allègre together. This has led to a comfort among the staff, and every night, after the meal is over, the staff sits down together to eat and de-stress.

Allègre, open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, is serving meals this week with the themes of Between the Colorado Boulders, Mainstreet Flushing, and Midwestern Delights. Reservations can be made on Allègre's website. Dinners cost $15 per plate, but Ball State students receive a 10 percent discount.