Soon after Carlton Robertson took on a new role as child nutrition director at Dayton Independent School District in Dayton, Texas, he was approached by the district’s maintenance director, who asked if anything could be done to refurbish an old cafeteria that had been sitting vacant for several years.
Robertson decided to renovate the cafeteria into a new eatery, but not one for serving students. “This cafe [is] different from any other cafe in that it's designed for adults,” he says.
After spending the fall and winter revitalizing the space, the nutrition team opened the Broncos Cafe, which serves breakfast and lunch every weekday, last month.
A menu for everyone
When planning the cafe’s menu, Robertson wanted to make sure its offerings reflected the diversity of the Dayton community and kept faculty and staff coming back for more.
“I wanted to make it spectacular,” he says. “Something that each time you come to it, you could eat and never get bored.”
Its wide range of dishes includes meatloaf with vegetables, pizza, sub sandwiches, to-go salads, burritos and enchiladas. During breakfast, diners can enjoy fresh fruit, bacon, sausage, grits, biscuits and more. One of the most popular items, says Robertson, is the make-your-own waffles that are available for both breakfast and lunch.
Robertson is always looking for new menu items to try and, this month, introduced an ice cream bar that allows guests to customize their own sundaes.
“We've got probably about 12 different toppings,” he says. “We have whipped cream and cherries, we’ve got sprinkles, we’ve got pecans, we’ve got M&Ms, we’ve got Butterfingers, we’ve got all those different toppings.”
Making the most of the space
While the cafe has only been open a couple of weeks, Robertson and his team are already looking at additional ways to utilize the space.
Down the road, it will serve as the central location for the nutrition team’s new catering program and, starting next school year, as a training location for students in the district’s culinary program.
In the immediate future, however, the cafe will begin delivering meals to faculty and staff in their classrooms at other schools in the district. “For the ones who can’t make it to us, we’re going to deliver to them,” says Robertson. “I’m always trying to think outside the box.”