Alumni Spotlight: Amanda Lacher
Amanda Lacher is a 2020 graduate of the Nolan School of Hotel Administration and was the Food and Beverage director of HEC 94. During the pandemic, Lacher joined with another graduate of SHA to develop and open PorchBox, a new restaurant with a unique concept in Laguna Hills, California. PorchBox is a takeout and delivery only restaurant, a model that has been gaining traction. The pandemic has been challenging for foodservice operations globally, but it has also accelerated exciting new changes in the industry.
Lacher explained that the idea for Porch Box futhers multiple trends in the restaurant and food businesses: more takeout, more options for people with dietary restrictions, and a healthier menu. PorchBox meals are packaged for the individual but can easily be purchased for a whole group of people. Porch box meals are both customizable (for people with allergies and dietary restrictions) and easy to purchase for a large or small group.
Along with delivery and takeout, PorchBox also does catering. Today, COVID-19 has emphasized that it is important to be cautious, especially in a kitchen environment. Lacher explained that PorchBox has done catering for business meetings and occasions; as opposed to buffet-style meals or fully plated courses that are common in catering, PorchBox's individually boxed meals allow for a more sanitary group dining experience. No one has to worry about their food touching anyone else's, which is especially important in this day and age.
Porch Box's restaurant space is very small, which can actually be very practical in the modern era of restaurant business. Amanda fondly recalls running between the Statler Kitchen and Food Labs during HEC weekend, but says that she now appreciates having to only walk a few feet across the kitchen to find something she needs. Amanda believes that her position in HEC helped prepare her to start her own business, especially in hiring and training volunteers for HEC, and now employees, for her business.
When asked what she is celebrating, Lacher said that she is looking forward to returning to campus for HEC 97 and "seeing hotelie faces that I haven't seen in a very long time" as well as connecting with current students.