Behind the Scenes at the Connections Cafe

by   |  02.15.13  |  Current Students, Entrepreneurship, Griggs Center

Most COBA students with an 8:00 class have experienced the tantalizing smell of a La Popular breakfast burrito being eaten by one of their classmates. This delicacy, which is often called “the best breakfast burrito in Abilene,” is often paired with Mission Lazarus coffee. This delicious brew is made from beans grown at a plantation in Honduras that provides its farmers with fair wages.

The Cafe proudly serves Mission Lazarus coffee

You may be thinking to yourself, “What wonderful institution provides this stellar breakfast combination?”

The answer is The Connections Café.

The Connections Café is a unique entity that is run by students interested in entrepreneurship here in COBA. This organization’s main purpose is to provide students with real life experience running small businesses. The thought process behind this institution is that students should learn about taking risks and making mistakes now, before their own money is on the line.

Mychal Ricks, a sophomore management major, was hired as the Café’s manager back in November. She said that during her time at the Café, her biggest challenge has been connecting with customers.

“I think the biggest challenge is knowing what our customers want,” explained Mychal. “Technically we’ll never really understand what our customer wants…and so that’s a really big challenge.”

Because the Café has only been student-run for a short period of time, Mychal and her co-workers are looking into different ways to attract customers. One option is adding new products, such as cereal, to their selection. In order to aid them in their decision-making process, the Café has enlisted the help of a student marketing research group here on campus. The research conducted by this team over the following semester will help Mychal and her team as they make advertising and purchasing decisions.

Mychal Ricks

Mychal wants to go into management after she graduates, although not necessarily in the food industry. She said that running the Café has made her more interested in pursuing a career in management, because it’s helped her to learn the ropes of management.

One of the biggest of these lessons has to do with interpersonal dynamics.

 “I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned is how to work with people,” explained Mychal. “[I’ve learned] how to separate my personal life from my business life and when to overlap them sometimes, because I can’t just be the boss around everyone. I have to somewhat get on a personal level with everyone.”

Be sure to stop by the Connections Café whenever you’re in COBA!