COLUMBIA – Tuesday's breakfast menu at The Gathering Place: creamed eggs, breaded pork loin with country gravy, fingerling potatoes and a bowl of berries and tropical fruit.
Guests who stay at the campus bed-and-breakfast inn on College Avenue often get such an elaborate breakfast. But Tuesday's was memorable.
The Gathering Place has served 10,000 breakfasts since 2008 and spent the morning celebrating it.
The building is leased to the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources to give hospitality management students real-life experience in their field. More than 400 students are enrolled in the program.
Originally built as a private residence in 1906, The Gathering Place has been home to a number of residents and has seen five renovations or restorations. It has been a private residence, a home for widows and a fraternity house.
The MU College of Agriculture Foundation purchased the Gathering Place in 2008 from the Ross Duff family.
“The Gathering Place is a bit of a hidden gem,” said James Groves, associate professor and department chair of the hospitality management program at MU.
On Tuesday, the hospitality management students gave tours of the house.
Several members of the Duff family graduated from MU, and all five guest rooms are named after their chosen majors — history, wildlife conservation, literature, textiles and chemistry.
Decor in each room matches the theme. The literature room has cases of old, cloth-bound books. The textiles room has vintage mannequins, and the history room is full of old photos and maps of the Columbia area.
Breakfast is served each morning in the dining room, which has two tables to accommodate guests. The Gathering Place roasts its own coffee and grinds the sausage, which comes from the meat market in Eckles Hall.
The College of Agriculture runs the market, as well as Buck's Ice Cream Place and Tiger Garden, which provided the floral arrangements and gift baskets Tuesday morning.
Along with The Gathering Place, these operations give students experience in their future career fields.
Amilinn Starks, a hospitality management student, said working with customers at The Gathering Place has helped her understand the ins and outs of hotel management. She has had a hand in scheduling, room check-throughs, breakfasts, luncheons, reservations and housekeeping.
After working at The Gathering Place, more students have become interested in this type of venue, said James Hundle, dean of the hospitality management program and assistant to the vice chancellor.
They want to open a B&B venue or capitalize on such sites for wedding parties and special events, he said.
Having a B&B close to campus is not only a commercial venture, but supports the education of our students, Groves said.
"Being able to help the public understand that is really important," he said.
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