By the Oak Lawn Community High School
OLCHS is savoring the newest member of its family: Country House Kitchen Company. Country House Restaurant, located at 5400 W. 127th St. in Alsip, is a family owned business. Its management team is made up Dave Boundas, Paul Boundas, John Bakalis, and Dave Fussell.
Country House has two sides of the business. One is a full service breakfast, lunch and dinner restaurant. The other is its school food service business, Country House Kitchen Company. Country House started its school business with the idea to bring a restaurant model into area schools. They operate each kitchen individually as its own “restaurant” that focuses on customer service and from-scratch cooking so each kitchen can be customized to the preferences of each individual school. Menus are not set to blanket all of their schools, rather they create and develop customized menus at each location that reflect the tastes and preferences of each site’s population. Each kitchen is fully staffed and all meals are prepared on-site. Country House now services 15 schools and feeds kids from pre-school all the way through college.
Country House is incredibly proud to make everything possible from scratch in their school’s kitchens. They make all of their own soups, sauces, pizza dough, cakes/baked goods, and daily specials in house using fresh herbs, locally grown produce when available, and even extra virgin olive oil that they make themselves on family land in Greece. They roast their own meats and pack their own burgers from 100% fresh ground beef. They eliminate the use of the usual bagged frozen soups, canned sauces, and precooked processed meats, which greatly increases the nutritional value of the food and almost totally eliminates preservatives, excessive amounts of salt, and all unidentifiable names on the ingredient lists of processed/prepackaged foods. A very important byproduct of this from scratch approach is the benefit it has on the environment. By cooking from scratch onsite, they save packaging, energy, and gas/emissions from extra trucks on the street.
The response they have received from students, faculty, and staff at Oak Lawn Community High School has been overwhelming. On their first day they served 90 of their daily specials, which is the focal point of their menu. It is a daily home cooked meal and the best indicator of how their program is doing. This number has steadily grown and at this point in the school year they have served 350! The Spartan staff is fantastic and shares their vision and commitment to from-scratch cooking in school kitchens. Teacher and football coach Matt Arthur describes the food as “delectably delightful.”