Iowa high school launches student-run coffee shop - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa high school launches student-run coffee shop

Posted: Updated:
  • KWWL.com LinksMore>>

  • Waterloo News

    Waterloo News

    Local news and information for the Cedar Valley and Black Hawk County, including Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Evansdale, La Porte City, Jesup, Dunkerton, Hudson, Gilbertville, Janesville, Raymond and Elk Run Heights.More >>
    Local news and information for the Cedar Valley and Black Hawk County, including Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Evansdale, La Porte City, Jesup, Dunkerton, Hudson, Gilbertville, Janesville, Raymond, Elk Run Heights and the surrounding Black Hawk County area.More >>
WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — Sleepy-eyed students at East High School can now get a morning jolt at the school's new coffee shop.

East Daily Grind, which opened a little over a month ago, offers coffee, tea, hot chocolate and several flavors of cappuccino to students and staff looking for a warm pick-me-up.

Senior Martaysha Jones handed over $2 on a recent morning for her daily cappuccino fix.

"I come in here a lot. I love it. I really like to support them," she said.

Monica Iliff's special education students are responsible for the shop's daily operations. Their duties include everything from inventory and cleaning to being cashiers and baristas.

"They have been involved every step of the way," Iliff said.

East Daily Grind is the brainchild of the East High Leadership Task Force, which formed in fall 2013. The task force aims to expose students to the business world and teach them valuable work skills, The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (http://bit.ly/1AOkzl7 ) reports.

"In our first few months of meetings, we were trying to identify student needs," said task force member Carrie Denton. "We invited student leaders to come to the meeting to help identify those needs. What do you guys want? We don't want to give you stuff that isn't useful to you. It came up that West (High) and Expo have coffee shops. If they can do it, why can't we? Once we got the idea, it just took off."

Local businesses got behind the project, donating time, money, products and services to get the coffee shop up and running. Regions Bank, East High's Partner in Education, donated $500 in start-up costs, and the manager of a local restaurant spoke to the students about standards of cleanliness in a food service operation. The rest has been the determination and elbow grease of students and staff.

Mornings at the Daily Grind are a flurry of activity as a line forms outside the second-floor shop's doors. Iliff runs a tight ship, making sure her students stay on task.

On a recent Thursday, senior Kaliyah Jones busied herself with cleaning duties in between phone orders for classroom deliveries. Barista Alex Boyer, a sophomore, prepared drinks as senior Malik Morgan worked the cash register. Their grades are based on customer service and teamwork.

"The biggest things students are learning is customer service and being professional with each other," Iliff said. "Far and away, the work ethic I have seen has been really amazing. Anybody would want to hire one of these guys.

Iliff's students, along with a number of other students, have been involved with the Daily Grind from the ground up. The coffee shop's logo and menu were designed by students, and co-op student Hailey Paige manages the shop's social media accounts.

It was the students who decided, based on surveys they created, what would be served at the shop. Boyer has even drafted a new survey he'll distribute soon to determine what cold drinks and food items will be served when the weather warms up.

"That was something that was important to us," Denton said. "We needed the kids to be engaged. We really wanted the kids to have some say and some input. If it's just a bunch of adults going 'blah, blah, blah,' they tune out. Here, they have ownership."

East Daily Grind has turned out to be a huge hit with students and staff. In just a month, sales have far exceeded Iliff's wildest expectations.

"Business has been really good," she said.

"Yeah, caffeine is great," Boyer said, smiling.

A grand opening is planned for Feb. 26. East High assistant principal Jared Smith plans to invite members of the school board and the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber. East Daily Grind also will make its debut to parents during upcoming parent-teacher conferences.
Powered by Frankly