Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Olympus Junior High teacher Janice Karren, right, and eighth-grader Cole Benson prepare a smoothie at the Bulldog Bistro last week.

It's not often you find a 13-year-old with job interview experience. It's even more rare to find a teen with experience in running a business.

But more than 100 Olympus Junior High eighth-graders not only have entrepreneurial experience but food handlers' permits along with a grasp of what it takes to start a business.

The Olympus Junior High Bulldog Bistro has been in business since last fall, offering students a healthy alternative to cafeteria food.

"It's a nice change from the normal pizza and fries in the cafeteria each day; you don't get smoothies with school lunch," said Ashton Palmer, a student at the school and bistro customer.

Customers of the bistro can have their pick from an array of whole grain and healthy products including sandwiches, smoothies, fruit and yogurt cups, fruit juices and cookies.

The business is part of the school's family and consumer science classes' curriculum and was the brainchild of the PTA.

Around 75 parents help hold the bistro together as well as Nan Washburn, owner of the Holladay Great Harvest, who donates a portion of the bread, cookies and whole grain foods to the Bistro.

Washburn also coached the students on interviewing techniques for the job interviews. The students could seek positions in a number of departments in the business including customer service, merchandising, marketing, food handling and financing.

To work in the bistro each student had to also earn a food handler's permit. They have also had a visit from the health inspector.

"I want them to walk away with a sense of what can be done, that they can start a business," said Janice Karren, family and consumer science teacher at Olympus. "I want them to have appreciation for healthy food choices and see alternatives to fast food."

The students chose to give all of their profits at the end of the year to the Road Home homeless shelter. Last semester the class made $1,000 profit, and with matching funds from other businesses and organizations they were able to make a $12,000 contribution to the shelter.

E-mail: [email protected]