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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Feb. 23, 2007

Learning community will operate a coffee shop

by Dan Kuester, News Service, and Anne Krapfl

Students from the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Learning Community will hold a grand opening of the Barista Cafè at 4 p.m., Monday, Feb. 26, in the north commons area of Buchanan Hall. The learning community is housed in Buchanan Hall.

Barista Cafe

Scott Rodenburg, a freshman in pre-business, is one of the entrepreneur student-operators involved in opening the Barista Cafè at Buchanan Hall. Photo by Bob Elbert.

The student-run cafè will serve coffees, espresso and tea; bottled Pepsi products and juices; several fresh-baked items from the ISU Dining bakery and pre-packaged snacks and candy. Other items may be added in the future. It will be open Monday through Friday from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 5 to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 5 to 11 p.m.

The cafè will accept cash and Dining Dollars. The primary market is Buchanan residents and residents of the ISU Greek community south of Buchanan, but the cafè is open to the public.

The concept for the cafè dates back to the first members of the learning community in its charter year, 2004-05. Planning has been picking up steam since then and 12 of the learning community's 25 members this year are actively involved in opening the store.

Junior marketing major Megan Todd is CEO of the Barista Cafè Co., and one of just two juniors involved in the project. The others are freshmen and sophomores. The usual turnover in students each fall has been the biggest roadblock to faster progress, she said. Her enthusiasm is convincing when she says she can't wait for 4 p.m. Feb. 26.

"I can't put a dollar value on this learning process," she said. "I've learned all the steps to go through in creating a business and all the things you have to think about."

The Barista Cafè is a for-profit enterprise. The student-operators must buy a piece of ownership in the cafe. That's $500 cash - or some combination of cash and pledged labor at the cafè when it's open. When the students leave or graduate, they will sell their stock in the cafè to incoming entrepreneur students. Students of any major may be members of the entrepreneurship learning community.

"Students learn many things about the entrepreneurial spirit in classrooms," said Judi Eyles, assistant director of the Pappajohn Center and coordinator of the learning community. "But this is a real chance to get experience in an actual commercial venture. There is simply no better way to learn than by doing it yourself."

The Pappajohn Center, an organization that helps foster entrepreneurial talents in students around the state, provided staff time, consulting and connections to professional services - such as legal, plumbing and electrical - needed to get the cafè going. A private gift from a university supporter purchased some equipment and supplies.

Eyles also said university units, including facilities planning and management, residence and ISU Dining, have been "tremendous partners" with the student team, donating space and services or giving the students special rates to help reduce start-up costs.

The cafè opening coincides with Entrepreneurship Week USA, Feb. 24-March 3.


"I can't put a dollar value on this learning process. I've learned all the steps to go through in creating a business and all the things you have to think about."

Megan Todd, marketing junior and CEO of Barista Cafè Co.