John Purdue Room serving lunch, dinner

February 17, 2010

One entree at the John Purdue Room is broiled honey-lime salmon, a five-ounce Atlantic salmon topped with a tangy honey-lime sauce and served with sauteed seasonal vegetables. (Photo by Ivan Petkov courtesy of Hospitality and Tourism Management)

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The nation's top undergraduate program in hospitality and tourism management has three little words to say: Dinner is served.

With a little attention to interior design, flavor, and feel, the John Purdue Room has come alive.

"The combination of elements, heighten the senses and provides for an elegant evening," says chef Ivan Petkov, who joined the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management in the fall with years of industry experience. Most recently he developed dining formats for campus and K-12 facilities in a four-state region for Sodexo. Assisting him are sous chef (No. 2) Mike Brown and Keith Molter, food service director. The department also offers breakfast and high-level snacks at the HTM Café. Both venues are in Stone Hall.

Petkov oversees students who operate the restaurants. The John Purdue Room has been a teaching laboratory since 1918 and functions as a genuine business. HTM depends on its revenue to keep it going. Petkov's philosophy is simple but demanding: "My goal is for every student to understand and experience every aspect of the restaurant business in a real-life setting, while they are taking this class.”

In the hospitality industry, graduates need "Sustainable Competitive Advantages," he says in the manner of a slogan, meaning what separates them from other graduating seniors as potential hires in a very tight job market. The department and several industry leaders have been working together to align the curriculum with industry expectations for success.

John Purdue Room lunch is a proving ground for about 100 students a semester in HTM 291. The JPR Bistro is managed by upper-level students in HTM 492. This semester, 72 students are in the course, which affords hands-on learning in both "back of the house" (food planning, cost control, food preparation and cooking) and "front of the house" (setup, staff relations with customers, wine and beer sommelier training). Students rotate through various roles, sometimes changing daily.

Evaluation of students, Petkov says, is based on performance, attitude and proficiency in everything from sanitation guidelines to finding appropriate solutions to problems or customer requests. There is a quiz every day on advanced readings. Punctuality, proper dress and a service attitude are musts.

John Purdue Room and John Purdue Room Bistro

Lunch hours are 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. Dinner hours, under the name John Purdue Room Bistro, are 5:30-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday. For both, reservations at 49-46845 are encouraged. This helps with planning and cost control. Menu information is at

The John Purdue Room lunch and the evening bistro offer a variety of entrees and other dishes. Petkov says the fare rivals that in many commercial restaurants at prices sometimes as little as one-third as much. With the improved room design and the satisfaction of seeing Purdue students perfecting their technique, customers can find a very appealing dining experience.

The John Purdue Room is at Room 122 on the main floor of Stone Hall. Groups are welcome, and in fact several dates this spring are booked for groups of 80-100 people. The restaurant also can handle a fine weekend banquet and does off-site catering.
HTM Café

While continuing to offer traditional sandwiches and desserts, the HTM Café's lunch menu has added two features called Wellness Cart and Street Connection. The Wellness Cart offers mostly vegan-based foods under 500 calories -- couscous, grapes, low-fat breads, tabbouleh and yogurts, for example.

Street Connection borrows from the custom of street vendors who sell one or two food items and do that very well. It uses an eight-week cycle; Petkov notes that most customers come in only once a week. Menu items will include a signature made-to-order burrito; pasta fresca; pho B noodles with either beef, chicken or tofu; Mediterranean, Asian stir fry; and more.

"Operationally, this allows us to address the tastes of a very diverse Purdue audience," Petkov says. "The made-to-order feature means fresher food for the customer."

This venue's breakfast offering, like the other menus, has expanded with healthier options. In addition to bacon and eggs, sausage and gravy, this quick-serve café has omelets and French toast and has plans for made-to-order waffles. Lunchtime sandwiches and desserts and other items are available in the afternoon on a grab-and-go basis. The café also has introduced Caribou coffee.

HTM Café hours, operating Monday-Friday, are breakfast at 7-11 a.m.; lunch at 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; and grab-and-go, snacks and beverages at 2-3 p.m.

The HTM Café is in Room 151 at the north end of the main floor in Stone Hall.