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Big Gift to Hotel / Restaurant Curriculum

HEARD ON THE BEAT / RESTAURANTS

May 04, 1999|GREG HERNANDEZ | Greg Hernandez covers the restaurant industry for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-5989 and at greg.hernandez@latimes.com

The founders of Collins Foods International, the worldwide franchiser of Sizzler Restaurants, have given $10 million to Cal Poly Pomona's School of Hotel and Restaurant Management.

The money, from Los Angeles residents James and Carol Collins, is the largest individual gift given to the university since it was founded in 1938 on land donated by cereal magnate W.K. Kellogg.

Before the most recent donation, James Collins had spearheaded several development projects for the school, including the raising of $4 million for the Collins Center for Hospitality Management in 1990 and another $5 million to pay for a 22,000-square-foot expansion of that center.

The $10 million will enable the department's enrollment to grow from 450 to 700 students over the next few years. It will also be used to establish a $1.2-million faculty chair which "will give our students an unparalleled opportunity to learn from the best in the business," said Richard Santillan, vice president of academic affairs.

Collins made his first foray into the restaurant industry by opening his own quick-service hamburger restaurant in 1952. Ten years later, he became a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchisee and eventually acquired exclusive rights to all the stores in Southern California.

In 1967, Collins bought the Sizzler Family Steakhouse chain, which is now known as Sizzler International Inc. He currently has 346 Sizzler restaurants worldwide and 100 KFC stores in Australia.

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