SHRM’S Café Morphs into a Coffee Shop Experience

Posted: Tuesday, June 14th 2016 at 2:03 PM

When the renovation for the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management (SHRM) took place in 2011, a small café-sized area was included with the thought that SHRM students could utilize the space for a hands-on experience in hospitality.

In October 2015, the café opened for business and was operated by volunteers from various student clubs. Staffing was challenging, though. It was uncertain if they would reopen for Spring 2016.

Dr. Wanda Costen, SHRM executive director, approached Professor Julene Boger (aka Ms. Jo) about taking the café under her wings. Boger teaches Operations and this was a good fit.

“Coffee shop” better fits the experience and this set the tone as the space re-opened in February 2016. The enterprise is now operated by student volunteers without a club affiliation. Commitment, enthusiasm, and creativity are the only requirements.

The team named themselves the “Breakfast Club” after a 1985 film of the same name. It seemed to fit the early-morning informality with which the students approached their daily tasks.

Boger shops for the groceries on the student-supplied list every morning. The bakers arrive at 7 AM in the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Demonstration Kitchen to create their scones and cookies from scratch. The shop attendants open the venue from 9:30 AM–12:30 PM, Monday through Thursday.

The café serves espresso drinks, cappuccinos, lattés, and teas purchased from local tea shops. Pour-over and French-press coffees are also available. Students even added Chef Molinaro’s famed Nutty Jack cookies to the menu.

Going in, the students didn’t realize how time-consuming it was going to be. But they go out of their way to make sure everything is well-presented. Abdul Enani looks forward to his time baking.

“I’m enjoying the experience and the learning process. Working at the shop has taught me a lot and it had given me the opportunity to apply my skills,” said Enani.  

The business faces stiff competition from a nearby international competitor, so they are not trying to take them on directly. For now, the learning environment is the key ingredient for Boger. “Supporting [S]HRM is the biggest value,” she said.

She is very pleased with the results and the efforts of each volunteer. Two of the students have already signed up for the Fall 2016 semester as bakers and are looking forward to trying new twists on the scone family. Boger said, “They ask, ‘Can we do this? Can we do that?’ and one of them said to me, ‘You know, all scone means is miniature cake’ so we can get as creative as we want.”

Boger smiles as she concludes, “They have so much energy. It is fun to watch.”

So the fall may hold fruit smoothies and more baked-good surprises. Be sure to drop in and support this worthy cause.

If you are interested in volunteering at the coffee shop contact Ms. Jo at

Categories: shrm cafe shrm coffee shop julene boger ms. jo faculty students spring 2016 2016 breakfast club j. willard and alice s. marriott demonstration kitchen nutty jack abdul enani