The Cornbread Buffet, located a few miles south of campus in the Landing Shopping Center, looks unassuming from the outside, but inside awaits great dining and an even better learning opportunity for UMKC student entrepreneurs.
The Cornbread Buffet is a buffet-style restaurant owned and managed by Ivan Marquez. While it offers a delicious and well-rounded buffet, it also serves as the home of a class run through the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The class, which is the first of its kind anywhere, offers UMKC students the chance to learn hands-on what it takes to open and run their own restaurant.
Students who are enrolled in the course are expected to spend 150 hours in the restaurant over the course of the semester in order to earn three credit hours. During this time, they learn every aspect of running a restaurant, from selecting target markets and a food concept to funding, reading a recipe and health and safety. All of the concepts are taught through real-world experience.
Ivan says he thought of the idea after asking many exceptional chefs why they don’t open their own restaurant and always getting the same answer: “I just don’t know where to start.”
“I suggested to Henry Bloch and Anthony Mendez of the Regnier Institute, ‘Why don’t we do something with UMKC that shows people how to start a restaurant from the very beginning?’” Ivan says, and that is exactly what the class does.
The program is currently low on students, having been implemented a little late at the start of the Fall 2018 semester, but the restaurant is growing every day, and Ivan expressed plans to possibly open more locations and franchise the concept by mid-2019.
As far as food goes, the Cornbread Buffet offers a selection that is as well-executed as it is eclectic. Breakfast is from 7:30-10:30 a.m. and includes scrambled eggs, fried eggs, omelets, pancakes, French toast, biscuits and gravy, fried potatoes, hash browns, sausage links, bacon, fresh fruit, a salad bar and cereal. Lunch is from 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and includes a salad bar with ample toppings and dressings, well-seasoned vegetables, fried and baked fish and chicken, potato wedges, pork chops, gumbo, yams, mac and cheese, a variety of soups and of course, delicious, freshly-made cornbread. There is also a brunch option on weekends from 11:00 a.m.-4 p.m. that is a hybrid of the two.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” says Chef Curtis Harvey, “It’s not really just soul food. We experiment and try to see what the community likes and put that out.”
With a price point of $9.95 for breakfast, $12.99 for lunch, $14.99 for brunch and a 10 percent discount for UMKC students, it’s well worth it to check out the Cornbread Buffet and support an innovative program that is unique to our university.