Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center

Arts & Culture
Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center
Auburn University
Auburn, AL
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The Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center is set to open its doors in Auburn in 2021. The center, which will be located on the corner of East Thatch Avenue and South College Street, is the first of its kind in the world and America’s only 5-star, 5-diamond training hotel.

The Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center will house the Laurel Hotel and Spa, a world-class hotel featuring 32 luxurious rooms, a spa, a wellness center, a rooftop pool and a yoga studio. In addition, guests will be available to enjoy a delicious meal at the 1856 restaurant and even have the chance to dine with a beautiful view of Samford Hall at the Sky Rooftop Garden.

Because the center is an educational facility, it will also house a learning food and beverage media studio, a coffee roastery and bar, a brewing science lab and a wine appreciation center. While these spaces will serve as educational resources for students, guests are welcome to spectate and enjoy everything these learning spaces have to offer.

Guests will also have the opportunity to attend weekend workshops offered on-site featuring “cooking classes, gourmet meals and camaraderie.”

The center is named in honor of Tony and Libba Rane. Tony, the son of Italian immigrants, built his career from scratch and later became the owner of a variety of thriving hotels, retail stores and restaurants, all with the influence and support of his loving wife, Libba. The center bears their name in honor of the couple’s “entrepreneurial spirit and fierce love of family, country and cooking.”

“This will be a huge hub for the community,” said Dr. Martin O’Neill, professor and department head of Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management at Auburn University. “We’ll be located in the second-most heavily populated intersection in the city. We’ll be wide open to the university and to locals, and we see it making a huge difference in the community.”

The center is the brainchild of Dr. O’Neill and Hans van der Reijden, managing director of The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center. The two began formulating the idea over a decade ago.

“Most international programs are known for their facilities, but we haven’t really had that until now,” said Dr. O’Neill. “We’ve done a brilliant job preparing people for their careers, but we’ve been behind on that.”

In addition to its community value, Dr. O’Neill believes the culinary center will be an invaluable resource for the university’s Hospitality Management program. Already the only accredited hospitality program in Alabama, he sees the center as a way to propel the program even further.

“Giving students the opportunity to engage at that level is something we’ve attempted to do with classes at the Hotel at Auburn and our internships, but this is an added value to that,” he said. “We’re zeroing in on what we’ve been doing for the last 30 years: people taking care of people.”

To learn more about the Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center, visit their website.