Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2019. 9:57 am CST.
By BBN Staff: What started as the dreams of two hospitality powerhouses is fast becoming a culinary success story for surprising reasons.
What goes through your mind when someone asks you to describe your Belize dining experiences? If you’re disappointed more often than you’re delighted, we’ve got a surprise in store. It’s called the 501hub, it’s located in Belize City and neither you nor your taste buds will be disappointed once you have the 501hub experience.
Owner/General Manager Lorena Zaldana calls her new culinary adventure the exception to the rule when it comes to providing authentic meals. “People want to be spoiled, pampered and treated like they matter when they dine out. For some, this splurge is an extravagance. We believe that people deserve a pure, clean, delicious experience so they never feel short changed or come away complaining about quality, quantity or the condition of the food they are served and most importantly the service they receive”.
She didn’t do this alone, by the way. Lorena teamed up with “Iron Man” Jim Scott, a legend in the industry with decades of experience and a talent for preparing healthy foods that are so palate-pleasing, diners have no idea that they’re getting food that’s good for them!
But the 501hub is more than just an eatery serving exceptional dishes and a gorgeous, beautifully-appointed restaurant; it’s also a school of sorts, adds Lorena. Lorena’s and Jim’s shared dream started 2 years ago with the inception of Hospitality Training services, a training company that offers internationally accredited certifications for every position in hospitality from line cooks, restaurant servers, front desk representatives, house keepers, guest services to supervisors, managers and general managers. Their dream has always been to open Belize’s first hospitality and culinary school and the 501 Hub is the first step in that direction. For now, as you enjoy the beautiful decor and ambience outside, behind the scenes, delicious dishes are prepared by trainees eager to make names for themselves as food service professionals and served by wait staff who are on a fast track to becoming certified hospitality trainers.
“We offer people careers rather than jobs,” Jim adds, pointing to the hospitality curricula that is comprehensive and appeals to all levels of interest. “The idea is to produce highly skilled and disciplined employees that we can offer job placement to, through our partnership with other hospitality properties. Whether a trainee wants to become a supervisor or manager–or happy to remain a line cook or member of the wait staff–every job offers dignity and purpose for irreplaceable members of the 501hub training class/restaurant team.”
While students learn the intricacies of the food and beverage industry (purchasing, point-of-sale marketing, budgeting, operations, inventory control and other essential tools needed to succeed), each one is also given an opportunity to become a trainer, so they can pay forward the gift they received when they joined the 501hub family.
“Our aim is to set the bar extremely high for our employees, service, quality of food and drinks, creativity and the overall dining experience but this will still be only the beginning. The tourism industry in Belize is growing rapidly and with international brands joining the scene, it is imperative that we think ahead about the thousands of new jobs that will be created,” Lorena enthuses. “This may seem to be an unorthodox way to contribute to Belize’s restaurant scene but with brands like the Hilton, the Marriott, The Wyndham and the Four Seasons coming to Belize, the standards of service need to be raised drastically to match the product that we are offering. Belize is beautiful so half the work is already done. We must now focus on improving service and this can only happen if we shift our attention to the development of our hospitality professionals by offering skills training and other professional development opportunities. I had a clear vision of this idea two years ago when I quit my job as a general manager to start HTS and turn my dream into something that had an impact on people and contributed to the growth of the tourism industry. Having Jim along for the ride is, excuse the pun, icing on a really delicious cake!”
“How will we know that we’ve achieved this dream? So far, so good! When trainees and staff start coming to work early because they can’t wait to get their day started–and as patrons continue to tell us that they’ve never before had the kind of dining experience they find at 501Hub—-that day is fast arriving and with every new review or positive, and even constructive feedback we are assured that we are on the right track,” Jim and Lorena agree.
“Some restaurateurs say that they know they have achieved success when every day is filled with wait lists and queues. We believe that day will come when people regularly patronize the 501hub because the food and service can’t be surpassed anywhere else in Belize and the rest of the world knows it! And then we will know we are ready to move on to phase 2 of this amazing journey and project. Stay tuned!”
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