SPC's $4 Billion Tourism Community Connection gets a 'Tranformational' $30 Million Upgrade

October 5, 2018

Public Information Officer


San Antonio’s $4 billion convention and visitors community enjoyed chamber of commerce-perfect weather as they celebrated a “transformational” upgrade in their global competitiveness during the St. Philip’s College Tourism, Hospitality and Culinary Arts Center of Excellence groundbreaking ceremony Oct. 4 at the multicampus college’s 1801 Martin Luther King Drive campus.

Designed to enhance both future student and industry success in the growing city, the new 61,200 square foot, four story facility will include five teaching kitchen labs and two full commercial kitchen labs around which the rest of the facility is organized.

Chef Will Thornton is the chair of the department that will occupy the facility for the original, senior and leading program in the 300-year-old city’s tourism sector.

“We’re getting the building we need for the future,” said Thornton.

Mary Kunz is a college faculty member who was chair of the exemplary-rated department for roughly 30 years, roughly as long as the college has held status as a Historically Black Colleges and Universities member institution. 

“We are pleased that this day has come,” said Kunz.

Chef Johnny Hernandez is a leading tourism industry executive in his capacities as president of Grupo La Gloria and chair of the college’s culinary arts advisory team. 

“It’s easy to do this for a couple of years, but for decades as St. Philip’s College has done… this is a transformational day for our industry in San Antonio, because the new facility will rival any program in the country,” Hernandez said from the ceremonial podium.

The labs in the new facility are located along a public corridor for easy access and visibility of the activity within by both students and visitors. Back-of-house corridors connect the labs to food and dry goods storage, classrooms, and other support areas. The public spaces of the building are designed to feel like a hotel – spacious, easy to navigate, and with multiple small seating areas to promote social interaction. Additionally, the hospitality program features include a classroom with mock hotel office and breakout rooms with retractable walls that can function similar to hotel conference rooms or as a hotel ballroom. An attached warming kitchen allows both Hospitality and Culinary students to host and practice large catering events. The building also includes a 100-seat tiered lecture hall that can double as a food demonstration kitchen, faculty offices and a loading dock for efficient delivery of goods in and out of the building.

San Antonio’s $4 billion tourism community ceremonially learned more about the project during the event co-hosted by college president Dr. Adena Williams Loston and Alamo Colleges District chancellor Dr. Mike Flores, with remarks from both of those corporate leaders and district board of trustees members Joe Alderete and Denver McClendon.

Funded as part of a $450 million bond package approved by voters in May 2017 to both construct new Alamo College District facilities and renovate existing college buildings, the $30 million building also contains two exciting signature restaurants which will be open to the public. The 1898 Café on the first floor will serve American cuisine. The crowning jewel dining experience within the building is Artemisia’s Restaurant. Cantilevered from the north end of the building and wrapped in floor-to-ceiling glass for dramatic views of the downtown San Antonio skyline that houses the heart of that city’s $4 billion tourism industry, the restaurant is the namesake of the school’s founder Saint and President Emeritus Artemisia Bowden and is where the most advanced students will prove their skills by planning menus, preparing and serving four course meals of the highest quality to the public.

Future capital improvement projects at the college include a $20 million Welding Auto Collision building (2019), renovations of the Clarence Norris Technical Building ($22 million - 2019) and the Artemisia Bowden Building ($10 million - 2019) in addition to a $16 million construction project for replacement of the college’s 70-year-old Fitness Center with a Wellness Building (2019)

While the architect of record for the tourism building project is Page Southerland Page, Inc., the contractor for the project is Skanska USA. Read more about that project at the Page Southerland Page, Inc. web page Creating Space to Learn: New Culinary Arts Facility to Open. Find images from the Oct. 4 event with San Antonio’s $4 billion tourism industry at the college social media pages later today. (Renderings courtesy Page Southerland Page, Inc.)

About the St. Philip’s College Tourism, Hospitality and Culinary Arts department: Recognized as exemplary by both the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the American Culinary Federation, the Tourism, Hospitality, and Culinary Arts programs at St. Philip’s College http://alamo.edu/spc/THCA/ leverage a 110-year legacy of preparing practicing and aspiring hospitality industry professionals for success and service in their industry by offering degree and certificate candidates academic programs in five primary occupational areas along with one full-time faculty member and multiple adjunct faculty members to work directly with students in each area. All five programs involve students in classroom-based learning experiences, as well as lab experience, and work-based learning during a practicum course. The culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, and restaurant management programs have been acknowledged with an Exemplary rating from the American Culinary Federation Foundation Accrediting Commission. St. Philip’s College is one of only 25 schools worldwide with the commission’s Exemplary status and is rated Exemplary by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The 110-year-old St. Philip’s College hospitality professions programs typically graduate 100 students annually, and expansion is expected this decade when the college opens its $30 million Tourism, Hospitality and Culinary Arts Center of Excellence building funded as part of a $450 million bond package approved by voters in May 2017 to both construct new Alamo College District facilities and renovate existing college buildings. Students graduating from the management programs: Hotel Management, Hospitality Management, and Restaurant Management are eligible to receive Certified Hospitality Graduate (CHG) certifications from the Accrediting Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration™. Culinary Arts and Baking and Pastry Arts students are eligible for Certification by the American Culinary Federation. The CHG is an industry-recognized professional certification that has been granted to only three hospitality programs in the state of Texas and only one program in the college’s service area. Since 2014, the University of Houston’s Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management San Antonio has offered the college’s alumni opportunities to transfer to one of the world’s top three hospitality programs. For information on registration in the college’s program, contact the department staff at 210-486-2315 or book reservations with the staff of the college’s student-operated restaurant by calling 210-486-2328.