The Barnyard Café Serves Up Hudson

The Barnyard Café Serves Up Hudson

As the clock draws closer to 11:30 am, the parking lot starts to fill outside the Barnyard Café next to the Palmer Center at Alvirne High School and patrons begin to form a line about 20 people deep, but that’s just about standard for a Thursday.

Those folks are waiting for the doors to open and for lunch to be served by the students involved with the Culinary Arts program at the Palmer Center, which is done just about every Thursday throughout the school year. The meal consists of a predetermined plate where customers can come in, grab their food, and eat in the café’s dining room area.

On this particular Thursday, a “make your own burrito” station includes students manning multiple areas that consist of tortillas, meat, salsa, lettuce, rice, beans, and a separate area with queso and tortilla chips. After a customer has chosen from those options, a crème brûlée awaits them for dessert along with an assortment of soft drinks.

Students put these meals together every week, including a “grab-and-go” option done on Wednesdays, under the supervision of chef David Bressler, who helps get the planning process started well before the food reaches the plate.

“The preparation starts when the order comes out the week before,” said Bressler, who is in his 33rd year as a professional chef. “Then Monday will be a full production day and the first stage if we need to marinate something or get it grilled off. We have two classes that work on it and they get about 160 minutes per day of work towards these functions.”

The first class of Bressler’s focuses on the Wednesday grab-and-go, while the second class has eyes on Thursday’s buffet-style meal.

“I have them doing simultaneous work and that’s why we’re doing two days of service now,” said Bressler. “It is a lot, but it’s the only way to get the kids the actual work.”

Over the years, a couple of different systems have been tried for the community at the Barnyard, including an a la carte service last year, but an overwhelming number of customers led to a change.

“I can tell you, it was out of control,” said Bressler. “I think we’re going to go back to reservations because you have a better idea of who is coming in and what to prepare for. Even last week, we opened up and had 125 people in just 35 minutes.”

Bressler and his students can utilize plenty of local resources for their food, as he tries to use as much farm-to-table as possible, which includes milk from The Farm at Alvirne.

The time dedicated to preparing the meals is worth it for the students, who get to give back to the community at the same time.

Joey Allison, who is a Hudson resident and senior at Alvirne, has been able to see the program development over the years, but has also seen how it impacts the customers that enjoy the product each week.

“Through COVID, they all lost certain things that they used to do a lot,” said Allison on the Barnyard customers. “They used to go for walks, they used to go out with their friends and they couldn’t do that for a while. And now that this is back, they got to not only come and eat with their friends, but they come and eat with the high school. It just makes all of us happy.”

Allison, who plans on attending Concord Community College for two years and then continuing on for another two years at CCC or transferring to Johnson & Wales with an intent to earn a degree in Hospitality Management, and his classmates learn all different aspects of production on a week-by-week basis. On this Thursday, Allison was circulating the dining room and checking in with customers to ensure that they were enjoying their meal, while other students were located in the back of the restaurant to bring out food and assist with anything else that came up.

The students will not only leave the program with plenty of restaurant experience, but some accolades to bolster their resumes as well. The program is currently up for accreditation through the American Culinary Federation and students can graduate with a certificate through the ACF as well as a food handler certification through ServSafe.

To check to see when the Barnyard Café is open and what it will be serving on a given week, make sure to follow The Palmer Center at Alvirne High School on Facebook at