To better utilize the available space at Education Village in Williams, the Colusa County Office of Education plans on opening a bistro to the public for breakfast and lunch on Feb. 1.
"We were trying to find ways to utilize the facility," said Michael West, superintendent of CCOE. "The kitchen that existed at the village was a warming kitchen, and it wasn't really being utilized. So we put money into it and revamped it to make the kitchen a full service facility."
At the beginning of the new year, CCOE will begin offering preschool at the facility. In addition to the fee-based childcare program, meals will be prepared in the facility's kitchen to accommodate the needs of the 11 preschools that CCOE is responsible for providing breakfast and lunches, as well as the adult education classes and administrative offices housed at Education Village.
CCOE's recent efforts to make use of the facility is part of its multi-year plan to utilize different components of the building for both internal use and for commercial/retail use — the bistro.
"When I started as superintendent, the village wasn't being fully utilized," West said. "I can't market the facility as a classroom function if it's not a school environment. We have an opportunity to change that. Our reason is to find some functionality for that facility."
The county's food service facility, which was at the Williams Migrant Housing Center, will move to Education Village over the next couple of weeks.
West said the kitchen will make wholesome, homemade foods like soups and sandwiches and sell juices.
"We have certain minimum requirements that we have to follow to make food for our schools," West said. "We will also provide something for our adult side and offer it at a reasonable price."
An expansion of Woodland Community College is next to Education Village. West said the bistro will provide students that attend the college an alternative, healthy food option for long days on the campus.
West said he is also hoping to work with the community college to house culinary courses at the Education Village to utilize the available space.
"This project is important because everyone is working together to achieve a specific goal," West said. "By working cooperatively, we are trying to make this a place that people want to be part of."
Though West has been at the forefront of the push to better utilize the facility, he said his staff has done the majority of the work behind the scenes.
"I couldn't have done it without them," he said. "I have a staff that never asks why; they just do what needs to be done."
Education Village is on 12 acres and houses only administrative offices and adult education courses at the moment. The facility cost approximately $17 million to construct, West said.