For some people, being a restauranteur is in their blood.
Adriana Garza and Baylee and Kaycee Bettencourt brought food out to customers at a young age. Their earliest memories are from being in their parents’ industrial kitchens. Now the three have teamed up with another second-generation hospitality professional — Brooke Robinson, whose mother owns an event-planning business — to create their own dinner series.
Kaycee Bettencourt called the group a “power team,” and members agreed their backgrounds in hospitality gives them an advantage.
“It’s really cool to see how growing up in the restaurant business has helped us tremendously, especially during Skyviews,” Baylee Bettencourt said.
The dinner series initiative is part of the Skyviews Dinner Series Capstone for students majoring in restaurant, hotel and institutional management.
Mike Nghiem, the course instructor and general manager of the Skyviews restaurant, said that throughout the course, students learn skills they can use regardless of the field of hospitality they choose.
The class is unique because it allows students to run a restaurant themselves and experience all aspects of it.
“If you can do these sorts of things, I feel like you can do anything at all,” Nghiem said.
Garza said Texas Tech is the only school in Texas with a program like the Skyviews capstone dinner series.
The knowledge gained from the series is priceless, said Kaycee Bettencourt. The night they work as service managers, the students are in charge of everything in the restaurant. When they are not managers, they tackle dish-pit, back-of-house, front-of-house and serving jobs.
The class meets each week to go over past dinner series, Bettencourt said, learning from both failures and successes.
Over the course of a semester, there are about 10 dinner series produced by the class, with a different theme each week. Nghiem said students are given an allotted amount of money to buy decorations. When the series is over, the students return the merchandise. Nghiem said Hobby Lobby has been very gracious to allow them to return decorations each week.
This week’s theme is the fusion of Mexican and Asian cuisine, called Salsa de la Soya. The design theme is gold and black, aiming for a modern contemporary look.
For Salsa de la Soya team members Baylee and Kaycee Bettencourt, who are twins and sorority sisters, the pressure to perform is high Their parents own Bud Jones in San Antonio.
It is a challenge working together, the sisters said, because they are “brutally honest” with each other.
“If I don’t like something, I’ll just tell her, and if she doesn’t like it she’ll tell me,” Baylee Bettencourt said. “And we’ll fight like cats and dogs, and then we’ll come to a compromise until we figure it out.”
Garza’s parents also own a San Antonio restaurant, called Aldaco’s, which serves authentic Mexican and Latin food. Baylee Bettencourt said they used Garza’s parents’ menu as an inspiration for their dinner series.
Garza’s and the Bettencourts’ families are coming to Lubbock for this week’s dinner series. All three said they were nervous to serve their families because they know how high their standards are.
“I know the way my mom is for her restaurant, and she has high expectations,” Garza said. “I know that she’s coming in here for me to have that same expectation as she has for her restaurant, but just 10 times more because she’s like, ‘You’ve grown up in this business.’”
Everyone on the team agreed they decided to major in restaurant, hotel and institutional management in part because of the dinner series. Their parents have also been looking forward to the event for years.
Nghiem, who has taught the class for three and a half years, said Skyviews has grown and improved throughout his time there. The restaurant now has a larger clientele, the branding has changed, and the emphasis on marketing has risen. The lunch series is now so popular that Skyviews had to raise the prices.
“We’re here as a restaurant and not just as a lab that happens to be a restaurant,” Nghiem said.
The Salsa de le Soya dinner series will run on March 8 and 9 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Reservations can be made by calling the Skyview number at (806) 742-4762 or by contacting the Bettencourt sisters, Garza or Robinson.
Don’t forget to ask for the secret cocktail that will not be on the menu. It is called the Saki Sunrise.