Posted Sat, May 17, 2014


Vacant: Red Robin’s Burger Works has left the building (Photo by Daniel Day)

Vacant: Red Robin’s Burger Works has left the building. (Photo by Daniel Day)

DENVER, Auraria Campus Things are winding down at the Hospitality Learning Center. The student run Metropolitan Grill temporarily closed May 7, 2014, ending the spring lunch schedule. After a successful first semester running the restaurant, students deep cleaned the kitchens during the last week of class. The Red Robin’s Burger Works formerly located in the HLC has closed indefinitely leaving the first floor of the HLC quiet and empty. As of now, students and staff will have to dine elsewhere.

“They don’t have a restaurant at the hotel,” Chef Jeffrey Koch said. “I think that the closest place is either the Tivoli or Brooklyn’s right over here.”

The Metro Grill will reopen June 24, 2014, during the summer semester for lunch Tuesdays thru Thursdays until further notice. The summer students that will run the restaurant beginning early June are registered for Food Production and Service I, taught by Chef Koch, as well as Healthy Cooking, taught by Chef David Beckwith.

Last Day: Food Production and Service I students after deep cleaning the kitchens at the HLC (Photo by Daniel Day)

Last Day: Food Production and Service I students after deep cleaning the kitchens at the HLC. (Photo by Daniel Day)

In the meantime, HLC staff are brainstorming, planning arrangements and fine tuning operations for the Metro Grill. They want to create an inviting, enjoyable environment for student diners and other guests.

“This summer we’re going to have to push hard to get some people in here,” James “Jimi” Webb said. “We also have our Healthy Cooking Class which is running too and we’re going to try and do a couple special events.”

The culinary team has had a prosperous first effort this semester, but they still have concerns and plan to take action on making slight improvements.

“I would like to do some stuff out on the patio this summer, Koch said. “I’m going to be gearing up for the summer course trying to think of some opportunities to get folks in here.”

Koch instructed Food Production and Service I during the Metro Grill’s inaugural semester serving lunch Mondays thru Wednesdays.

Beckwith said he wants to maintain an atmosphere people can recognize during the restaurant’s open hours. He instructed Food Production and Service II during the inaugural semester serving lunch on Thursdays.

Looking Back: Chef David Beckwith during the busiest week of the semester(Photo by Daniel Day)

Looking Back: Chef David Beckwith during the busiest week of the semester. (Photo by Daniel Day)

The Metro Grill first opened to the public Feb. 10, 2014. Beckwith, Koch and Jimi have been the most hands-on staff contributors to the restaurant with the professional assistance of Jackson Lamb, an associate professor of hospitality at Metropolitan State University.

Beckwith has taught at Starkey International Institute and has trained personnel who have gone on to work at the White House, the Vice President’s residence, Camp David, NORAD, West Point and Annapolis. He also taught at the Art Institute of Colorado for 12 years.

“I came from a very large family and as soon as you were tall enough to see the bottom of the pot, it was your job to cook,” Beckwith said.

Koch led the first class during the Metro Grill’s opening day. He has taught Food Production and Service at MSU for four semesters. With 25 years of experience in culinary arts, he has also taught at organizations such as Work Options for Women and the Colorado Chefs Association. His favorite dish on the Metro Grill’s menu is the crabcake sliders. “I like the spiciness paired with the sweet crab,” he said.

Left: James "Jimi" Webb  Right: Chef Jeffrey Koch  Now that the semester is over, they have a brief moment to relax  (Photo by Daniel Day)

Left: James “Jimi” Webb
Right: Chef Jeffrey Koch
Now that the semester is over, they have a brief moment to relax and gather their thoughts
(Photo by Daniel Day)

Koch plans to do a lot of rock climbing this summer. “I like to go to Boulder Canyon and Eldo [Eldorado Canyon]… those are the two primary areas,” he said.

Jimi is the HTE operations manager and an alumnus of the program. He remembers when, prior to construction of the new HLC, the class was held in the Plaza Bldg. Students used to transform the classroom every day.

“They’d have to tear out all the tables, all the chairs, roll in other tables and chairs, set it up as a dining room and we’d have a little lunch in there,” he said. “Now that we have the restaurant, it’s an outlet. In this class they’re learning how to use POS systems, how to use reservation systems … they learn a lot about service too.”

The Metropolitan Grill is located on the North side of campus next to the baseball field along Auraria Parkway. Menus are available and lunch reservations can be made online at


What: Metropolitan Grill
Where: Hospitality Learning Center, 1190 Auraria Parkway Room #101
When:  11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Tue. – Thurs.
Cost: $8-$10
Phone: (303)-556-6824

OPENS JUNE 24, 2014

About Daniel Day

Daniel Day is a journalist currently studying at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

View all posts by Daniel Day

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