Elkins – Coffee, pastries and business experience now have something in common at Davis & Elkins College. The student business organization Phi Beta Lambda recently opened Beta Bean Café in response to students’ desire for a campus coffee shop.
The venture also fulfills the organization’s need for funding travel to out-of-state conferences, and provides hands-on experience for managing and working in a small business.
“Beta Bean Cafe runs strictly for the benefit of the Davis & Elkins College students from a learning experience, which included the drafting and implementation of a business plan, all the way through to the profits going back into the organization,” says D&E Vice President for Student Affairs Scott Goddard. “It’s all for, and about, the students … the students get to work in a real business.”
Beta Bean Café, located inside Booth Library, officially opened Monday, November 4 after a soft opening on Saturday, November 2. Hours are Mondays through Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Fridays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Weekend hours will vary depending on campus activities.
“Response since the opening has been great, and this will be a delightful addition to our campus,” says PBL Advisor and D&E Professor of Economics and Finance Dr. Nadeem Khan.
The student organization-owned and -operated business employs 13 D&E students, and is managed by Phi Beta Lambda President Frank Cottrill, a senior from Parkersburg, WV. Kevin Gratias, a senior from Belington, WV, serves as assistant manager.
Cottrill says the idea for a coffee shop was brought up in a Student Assembly meeting more than a year ago, and PBL went to work on a business plan.
“The magic really happened behind the scenes,” Goddard says. “Starting with a student idea, student action, and support from a member of the Board of Trustees, Student Assembly, and the faculty, staff and administration.”
Cottrill says the planning process was lengthy and the project didn’t come together as quickly as he had expected.
“I offered to be the manager, and had hoped that we would have made progress last spring,” he says.
However, it wasn’t until finals week that Cottrill learned the plan had met College administration approval.
“The project was essentially taken up from scratch at the start of this school year,” Cottrill explains, adding that that’s when he brought in Gratias, PBL’s treasurer, as assistant manager.
The two had a lot of details to finalize, including selecting the centrally located library as the business site and making sure inspection reports were signed.
Now, the aroma of gourmet coffee drifts from the 10-foot-by-9-foot kiosk on wheels with a menu of Caribou coffee, Americano, cappuccino, espresso, latte, macchiato, hot chocolate, mocha, frappe and tea, along with muffins and Danish pastries.
Students are lining up to make their selections and offer suggestions.
Currently, Beta Bean Café offers raspberry, hazelnut, caramel, chocolate and Kahlua flavors, and Gratias hopes that list will grow.
“Students have been asking for other flavors and for scones, so we’re checking to see where we can order those,” he says.
Gratias adds that eventually students will be able to place their orders by text message.
Cottrill and Gratias are also looking at additional future plans, specifically training others to take their places when they both graduate in the spring.
“It’s good experience for any member of the club because you learn to work with the school and deal with what you have to as a manager,” Gratias says.
Goddard agrees, saying he hopes students who work at Beta Bean each semester take away valuable lessons about business and life.
“They’ll gain the ability to work with all types of people at all levels, which is critical for success,” Goddard says. “Our hope for students is to get a general base knowledge of how to start and run a business. You cannot put a price on experience.”
Related to the Presbyterian Church (USA), Davis & Elkins College is located in Elkins, 2 hours east of Charleston, 3 hours south of Pittsburgh and 4 hours west of Washington, DC. For more information, please visit the College website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.
Frank Cottrill, a Davis & Elkins College senior from Parkersburg, WV, serves as manager of Beta Bean Café. The kiosk, located inside Booth Library, serves hot and cold coffee drinks, tea and pastries. The business opened earlier this month in response to students’ request for a campus coffee shop.