The Village of West Greenville is only blocks away from the hustle and bustle of downtown. In recent years, downtown Greenville has become an ever-increasing hot spot for South Carolina’s hospitality and food industry. Restaurants were popping up frequently, at least before COVID-19 struck, and many of those establishments have found ways to adapt and still serve their patrons.
It’s the closeness to Greenville’s hopping restaurant scene that led Greenville Technical College to choose the Village of West Greenville as home to the college’s Truist Culinary and Hospitality Innovation Center in Poe West — the renovated former textile facility is now home to several businesses. The center will house several programs designed to help Greenville community members acquire the skills necessary for the area’s hospitality and restaurant establishments.
The location is strategic, according to college officials, as the center can provide quick jobs training to a low- and moderate-income community that is only a few miles away from a high concentration of jobs in the downtown area. That combination couldn’t be beaten for the college and the Greenville Tech Foundation. It’s an opportunity to make a real economic impact — training and employment all within walking distance.
CHI, as the center is known, will offer continuing education classes and also help students continue on to the college’s Culinary Institute of the Carolinas by providing students training in the foundational skills of culinary arts. The Culinary Institute of the Carolinas offers several culinary programs at Greenville Tech’s Northwest Campus.
“It’s not a substitute for the Culinary Institute of the Carolinas over at Northwest Campus. This is actually a pathway for people that get interested in and get the taste of it can actually move on to that [program],” said Alan Scheidhauer, CHI director of operations. Scheidhaurer said the job training programs are important because those frontline positions are what the industry needs.
Not only will CHI provide space for instruction for fast-tracked training programs, but it will also provide instruction for middle and high school groups as well as teach customized personal and professional courses. The programs are adjustable to meet the needs of the community. Scheidhauer hopes the personal courses provide “an educational experience and fun.”
The facility at Poe West features a 50-seat studio kitchen and auditorium for teaching classes, hosting guest speakers and serving other needs for CHI. There are also two interactive classrooms that can hold 30 students each. CHI’s multipurpose teaching kitchen has all the instruments and equipment to teach students a variety of culinary methods. A mixology and server training lab offers students the chance to learn the art of cocktail mixing, barista training and good service techniques. The center also boasts an outside grilling station — a favorite of Scheidhaurer who was one of the planners of the facility.
“It’s a place to learn how to cook some basic things and to get a tasting,” said Scheidhauer. “The goal is really to educate people more on food.”
Scheidhauer also said that the center plans to partner with nonprofit organizations in the area to help connect those in need with culinary training. While their programs are not degrees, CHI can provide enough job training to land positions in Greenville’s hospitality and restaurant scene. Those courses last three months or less and financial aid is available.