The cakes are baked, the beds are made, the finishing touches are done, and all that is left is the official ribbon cutting ceremonies for Muscatine Community College’s new Culinary and Hospitality Lab.


Those ceremonies will take place at 5 p.m. next Thursday, March 2 at the former Button Factory restaurant location at 215 W. Mississippi Drive. The public is invited to attend, get a look at the newly remodeled space, and taste some of the appetizers cooked up by the culinary faculty and students.


Eastern Iowa Community Colleges’ popular Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management programs, currently offered at Scott Community College, were expanded to Muscatine with the first culinary class beginning this past month. Students complete their classwork in the newly remodeled facility on Mondays and then spend the remainder of their week in actual work experiences at local restaurants, hotels, and related businesses.


The new lab replicates the kitchen and hospitality environments students will experience in the real world. Visitors to Thursday’s grand opening will have the opportunity to meet with faculty and students, take tours of the facility, and get answers to any questions they might have about the programs.


Both programs are partnering with the Merrill Hotel and Conference Center under construction along Muscatine’s riverfront. Graduates are guaranteed an interview for employment with the hotel.


The Culinary Arts program is one of the largest programs at Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, with more than 100 students every year.


Students in the culinary program are simultaneously completing a national apprenticeship program so the skills they learn are in demand at restaurants throughout the area and the rest of the United States.


The Hospitality program has been serving students for more than a decade. Muscatine students will be doing internships at the local Hampton Inn. The program trains students for jobs in hotels, restaurants, conference centers, and other facilities that regularly serve large groups of people. Students are prepared for a wide variety of positions including events, front desk, catering and banquets, sales, reservations, and housekeeping.


For more information about the programs, call 1-888-336-3907 or email [email protected]