Innovation Center to feature student-run coffee shop

Business teacher will put his students’ ideas to work


Ellie Moores

During his E period personal financial responsibility class, Mr. Brendan Surane reviews material with his students. Surane plans to have one of his courses next year with students operating a coffee shop in the Innovation Center.

Ellie Moores , Reporter

Having a Starbucks right down the street from school has been a lifesaver for many exhausted students looking for a caffeine boost, but soon there may be an even closer location for caffeine freak to get their morning pick-me-up. 

At the completion of the Innovation Center, the administration plans to open a student-run coffee shop to cater to the caffeine needs of students and staff. 

While the news of a student-run business may come as a surprise, this idea has been in the works for quite some time. When she interviewed him for his job on the Hill, Principal Mrs. Julie Barthel asked Mr. Brendan Surane, entrepreneurship teacher and men’s assistant volleyball coach, about helping set up this opportunity. Surane said, “The administration wanted some sort of student-run business on campus, and we just settled on the idea of a coffee shop because it’s kind of easier to run. There’s not a ton of maintenance and overhead that go into it and it’s something all the students could use to get cheaper coffee without going to Starbucks.”

But Surane has not been working alone. In his entrepreneurship classes, Surane tasked his students with providing their feedback. Seniors Whitley Walton and Ellie Sagebiel created business plans for a coffee shop on the Hill when they took Surane’s entrepreneurship class during the first semester. Their business plan has been a source of inspiration for Surane when coming up with ideas for the new establishment. 

Ultimately, Surane wants the coffee shop to serve as a hands-on learning experience for business students. While Surane would oversee the employees, the shop will mostly be run by students. “The main goal of this will be to kind of create an entrepreneurship incentive, show them that it’s not that difficult to run your own business and that it can be rewarding,” Surane said. The coffee shop will serve as an opportunity for students to explore the world of business and learn how to efficiently run an establishment. 

Working in the coffee shop will not be like working at Starbucks. Students will be more than just baristas; they will exercise their business skills. “There will be some creativity involved, things like marketing, coming up with new products and menu items,” Surane explained. Students will be expected to demonstrate their expertise in multiple areas of business in order to keep the coffee shop a place students and staff want to patronize. 

We want it to be a spot for the students.”

— Business teacher Mr. Brenda Surane

Being an employee at the new coffee shop will be an extension of Surane’s business courses, so students interested in this opportunity should sign up for the class. But to be an employee in the coffee shop, there will be some requirements. Running a successful business calls for a certain amount of inventiveness. Students will need to come up with marketing strategies that appeal to their customers as well as new menu items. 

Employees must exhibit qualities that go beyond the classroom, as well. Surane also said that the students who work at the coffee shop must be reliable and demonstrate leadership skills. “If you can never work or actually run the coffee shop by yourself, there is really no point,” Surane said. Additionally, Surane highlighted the importance of leadership, explaining that students will occasionally be in charge of their classmates and will have to be able to hold their peers accountable.

The addition of a coffee shop to campus is certainly an exciting prospect for students. Not only will they have the opportunity to work there, but they will also have a new area to study and gather with their friends. And that is exactly what Surane hopes for. “We want it to be a spot for the students. Obviously it’s student run, so we want it to be a place where they can display artwork, meet together, study or put shows on,” Surane said. With this in mind, perhaps next year, the annual Coffee House Jam, where students gather to perform music and enjoy refreshments, can actually take place in a coffee house. 

While campus life has certainly been impacted by the Covid regulations and the ongoing construction, the idea of having a coffee shop at school might help keep students excited about the future amidst all of the unpredictability of the current school year.