Leave a Big Tip at PJ’s for the United Way

Student restaurateurs will donate tips to local charity


From left: Undergraduates Jennifer Young, Rebekah Keith and Nicole Greer will be cooking for a cause Dec. 1 at PJ's Restaurant.

Dec. 1 is the date that ties things together for three students in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) restaurant course. That’s the assigned date for Rebekah Keith, Jennifer Young and Nicole Greer to manage operations at PJ’s Restaurant, a student-run restaurant on campus. It also happens to be World AIDS Day and is the last day of the University of Guelph United Way campaign.

The three classmates saw those coincidences as a great opportunity. They’re planning to serve some of their favourite family recipes under the theme “Canadian for a Cause” and will donate the day’s tips to the United Way to support the AIDS Committee of Guelph and Wellington County.

Located in Macdonald Stewart Hall, PJ’s serves lunch Monday through Friday throughout the fall semester. Each day features a new menu and theme created by the student groups running the events.

Keith, Young and Greer have already served in themed restaurants run by their peers, but Dec. 1 is their day to enjoy being managers. Keith says they’re excited about the whole experience, especially finding a way “to run the restaurant for a bigger cause and put some money toward local AIDS initiatives.” The University affiliation with the United Way sealed the deal, because the annual charity drive helps to support the local AIDS group.

In planning their “Canadian for a Cause” restaurant, the students have learned a lot about HIV infection and AIDS cases in Canada and they want to share some of that information with their restaurant patrons.

“We really want the event to raise awareness,” adds Keith. “People know a lot about HIV/AIDS globally, but they may not know about the Canadian situation or the work of local agencies. The Guelph AIDS committee, for example, offers anonymous HIV testing, educational programs for youth and services that benefit pregnant women who are HIV-positive.”

Tips from the restaurant course are normally returned to the school to upgrade kitchen facilities and equipment. But instructor Simon Day was eager to help with the fundraising aspect of the students’ restaurant theme. All 30 of the students in the class will help to support the United Way by cooking, busing and waiting tables for the Dec. 1 event.

On the menu are split-pea soup, maple-smothered trout and beaver tails, with all entrees priced below $8. “Excessive tipping is encouraged,” says Keith, who hopes their “Canadian for a Cause” theme will help them raise at least $100 for the United Way.

Young and Greer are enrolled in the hospitality and tourism management program; Keith is studying applied human nutrition. They all champion the restaurant course as a one-of-a-kind offering in Canada, but Keith says it will also benefit her future internship in food service. “I will have the skills of knowing how to run a restaurant, maintain cost control and manage employees, in addition to my nutrition courses.”

Seating in PJ’s is limited, and reservations are required. Click here to view the complete menu and book a reservation.