The University of Arkansas takeover of the Crescent Hotel



(EUREKA SPRINGS, AR) – During the second weekend of February there was a collegiate takeover of a Historic Hotel of America here in this small Ozark community.  This coup was neither violent nor illegal since it was more of a “coup de spatula” when the students in Hospitality and Restaurant Management (HRMN) program in Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas operated the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa for a day during “A Class Act,” a fundraising event.

Proceeds from the event will help support the growth and development of the HRMN program.  The money raised will be used to provide student scholarships, professional development programs for students and faculty, and equipment and supplies for research projects promoting excellence in hospitality, according to Dr. Robert Harrington, associate professor and the Twenty-first Century Endowed Chair in Hospitality.

The highlight of the weekend was the Friday night reception and dinner featuring Arkansas-inspired cuisine, wine, and entertainment followed the next morning by a breakfast buffet.  The stage was set with a three-course meal featuring Act I – Roasted Corn and Tomato Soup with Smoked Catfish and Peppered Bacon; Act II – Venison “Sauerbraten” featuring Serviettenknödel and Cynthiana Demi-Glace accompanied by Spinach Greens and Citrus Pot-Likker; and The Finale – White Chocolate Blueberry Biscuit Pudding with Ruby Port White Chocolate Sauce.

“Exquisite” was the way the meal, which was both prepared and served by U of A students, was described by The Crescent’s Vice-President of Operations and Development, Jack Moyer.  “Tonight, theory met reality with the program and these students coming out as the winners.  I cannot think of another Hotel and Restaurant Management Program that has students totally operate an independent resort in the private sector.  Because of tonight, the University of Arkansas Hospitality Program has differentiated itself from all the others,” added Moyer who also serves the University as chairman of the Hospitality AND Restaurant Program Advisory Board.

Numerous University and industry notables attended the event such as Vice Chancellor Brad Choate, Associate Vice Chancellor Bruce Pontious, Interim Dean and Associate Vice-President Lalit Verma, Godwin-Charles Ogbeide, Kelly A. Way, Allen Powell, Kellie Knight, Fred Miller, Martin Redfern, Elizabeth Underwood, Stephanie Hentschel, Nick Anthony, and Bob Wideman from the University of Arkansas; Tina Post-McAlister from Post Familie Winery and Vineyards in Altus; Franz Viertbauer from the Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa in Hot Springs; owners Marty and Elise Roenigk, Jodie English and Bill Ott from the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa and the 1905 Basin Park Hotel in Eureka Springs; Don and Julie Alberson, Macey Cossey and Roanna McDaniel from the 1929 Hotel Seville in Harrison; Nancy Clark and Cheryl Ferguson from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism; former CEO of the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce Barry Travis representing the Arkansas Tourism Foundation; Jim Fix, David Davies and Travis Welch from the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute; Kasey Bare from Embassy Suites of Rogers; Bob Purvis from the Pine Bluff Convention Center; Karen Tucker from the Peabody Hotel of Little Rock; Bill Lyle from the Inn at Carnall Hall in Fayetteville; Keith Burmylo and Rick Gammill from Ben E. Keith Foods; Jeff Feldman from the Greater Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce; Jim Williams from the City Advertising and Promotion Commission of Eureka Springs; Terry Cook from the Harrison Convention and Visitors Bureau; Jed Bullock from the Arkansas Lodging Association; Debbie Miller of The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas; and Rachael Prevatte from the Ozark Arts Council.

The weekend concluded with a career fair for the students.  Moyer explained that the Crescent, which provides a summer internship for a U of A student, planned to hire its 2009 intern during the fair.  He added that other hotels that attended the career fair included the Peabody Hotel of Little Rock and the Embassy Suites of Rogers, among others.

For more information about “A Class Act,” call Bob Harrington, 479-575-4700 or Kellie Knight, 479-575-2270.

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