Teaching restaurant to take over empty Papa Giorgio’s space

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

San Marco’s “restaurant district” will soon see a new kind of restaurant open its doors.

Joining the likes of Bistro Aix, European Street Café, bb’s and The Wine Cellar at the north end of the San Marco dining experience, the Kitchen on San Marco may be open as early as January 2014.

However, unlike those locally owned and operated establishments, the Kitchen has an unusual owner – Education Corporation of America.

Founded in 1999 in Birmingham, AL, ECA is a privately held company in the business of proprietary, for-profit colleges. The Kitchen will be a teaching restaurant, staffed by professional chefs as a training venue for culinary students of Culinard, The Culinary Institute of Virginia College.

The restaurant will provide students of the local Virginia College campus at Beach and University boulevards with hands-on experience inside a professional restaurant. Its location at 1402 San Marco Blvd. formerly housed Papa Giorgio’s, the former pizza and burger place.

ECA seems to know what it’s doing. Kitchen on San Marco will be its fourth restaurant-slash-learning lab for culinary and pastry students. The company also serves culinary delights for patrons in Mobile, AL at Kitchen on George; Richmond (Kitchen on Cary), VA and Chattanooga, TN (Kitchen at Union Square). Kitchen on George also was voted Best New Restaurant in 2011 by readers of Lagniappe magazine, a local Mobile publication. Culinard has trained more than 1,000 chefs in its nine locations across the Southeast.

Kitchen on San Marco will include dining, private dining, booths and a bar in 4,500 square feet of space, seating nearly 150 patrons for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.

ECA’s Kitchens prefer to create menus based on local and regional foods, and the venue on San Marco will most likely feature the coastal influences of nearby fisheries.

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